Accidental death verdict on soldier killed as he walked home from stag do

Bournemouth Echo: Matthew Cottrell and fiancee Debbie Smith Matthew Cottrell and fiancee Debbie Smith

A SOLDIER killed as he made his way back to base after a night-out had consumed more than three times the legal drink-drive limit when tragedy struck, a Coroner's Court heard today.

Sapper Matthew Cottrell, 24, suffered "appalling injuries" after being involved in a collision with a single-decker coach on the A35, between Poole and Bere Regis, in the early hours of June 23 last year.

Sapper Cottrell, who served with the Royal Engineers at Bovington, was due to marry his fiancee Debbie Smith, who heard the devastating news of his death while on her hen party in Prague.

The inquest heard how a taxi driver had dropped Sapper Cottrell, from Southport, Merseyside, off on the dimly lit road because he hadn't enough money to cover the £50 fare to Bovington.

The cabbie wasn't aware that the rest of the fare would have been paid, if he had taken Sapper Cottrell back to base. 

Coroner Sheriff Payne recorded an accidental death verdict.

After the hearing, Kathy Tilbury, MD of Excelsior Coaches, said: "Our driver, and all aspects of our business, have been totally exonerated following the outcome of the inquest.

"The result is as we had expected all along and we have fully co-operated with the emergency services throughout the course of the investigation, and the inquest process.

"Our thoughts and sympathies remain with Matthew and his family, but we can all move on from this tragic accident now, lets hope that we can prevent another unnecessary death by raising the awareness of walking down an unlit road, at night facing the wrong way."

Comments (5)

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4:05pm Wed 16 Jan 13

wessex-andy says...

R.I.P. Sapper Cottrell.
R.I.P. Sapper Cottrell. wessex-andy

5:50pm Wed 16 Jan 13

niceonecyril says...

Very sad, rest easy Soldier.
£50 for a 12 mile journey is just not on
.
Very sad, rest easy Soldier. £50 for a 12 mile journey is just not on . niceonecyril

11:15pm Wed 16 Jan 13

DansAFCB says...

Money route of all evil! Why would you just drop someone in the middle of nowhere!
RIP soldier
Money route of all evil! Why would you just drop someone in the middle of nowhere! RIP soldier DansAFCB

1:48pm Thu 17 Jan 13

l'anglais says...

If the taxi driver had done that in mainland Europe, he would be charged with putting another human in danger.

RIP
If the taxi driver had done that in mainland Europe, he would be charged with putting another human in danger. RIP l'anglais

1:35am Sat 19 Jan 13

Taximanwey says...

Being a Taxi Driver I can tell you now that they would NOT of paid at the other end. Infact Bovington gate staff are no help at all unlike the other camps who would put the soldiers in question on report and settle the fare to the driver. The soldiers at Bovington are the worse for not paying,Us Taxi drivers have bills to pay and children to feed and do not run a charity, especially when passengers have the money to waste on alcohol and kebabs but dont have the money to cover the fare home. The responsability is with the adult passenger no matter if intoxicated.
I myself have ejected passengers from my Taxi however I do have a duty of care and the common sense to drop them in a safe place unless they are being violent or abbusive towards me.
It is unfair to judge this drivers actions and hold him resposible when we do not know the full circumstaces. It is a sad loss of life however this grown man led himself in to this situation which ended in tradgedy. If only these youngsters thought of the consequences of there actions.
Being a Taxi Driver I can tell you now that they would NOT of paid at the other end. Infact Bovington gate staff are no help at all unlike the other camps who would put the soldiers in question on report and settle the fare to the driver. The soldiers at Bovington are the worse for not paying,Us Taxi drivers have bills to pay and children to feed and do not run a charity, especially when passengers have the money to waste on alcohol and kebabs but dont have the money to cover the fare home. The responsability is with the adult passenger no matter if intoxicated. I myself have ejected passengers from my Taxi however I do have a duty of care and the common sense to drop them in a safe place unless they are being violent or abbusive towards me. It is unfair to judge this drivers actions and hold him resposible when we do not know the full circumstaces. It is a sad loss of life however this grown man led himself in to this situation which ended in tradgedy. If only these youngsters thought of the consequences of there actions. Taximanwey

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