Man ‘deliberately’ drove into oncoming traffic before crash

Devon incident claimed the lives of three members of Twomey family from Co Cork

Tue, Dec 3, 2013, 01:01

The Polish taxi-driver who killed a Corkman, his 16-month-old son and unborn daughter in a horror crash in Torquay last year deliberately crossed the road to hit their vehicle, a jury has found.

The jury in Torquay in Devon today reached their findings when they delivered an inquest verdict into two of those killed in the July 2012 crash, toddler, Oisin Twomey and the Pole, Marek Wojciechowski.

Mr Wojciechowski “suddenly steered his car across the road into the opposite carriage-way and accelerated into oncoming traffic”, the jury found after four days of evidence.

The sole survivor of the crash, Mrs Elber Twomey, Meengorman, Meelin, Newmarket, Co Cork, spoke emotionally in the coroner’s court after the jury had delivered its verdict. She was given permission by Coroner Ian Abbott to read a statement, even though a lawyer for Devon and Cornwall Constabulary had repeatedly objected earlier.

Saying that he could see “no difficulty” with Mrs Twomey’s statement being read after the jury had reached a verdict, Mr Abbott noted that he had refused her permission to do so before the jury’s decision.

Hours before last year’s crash, Mr Wojciechowski’s widow, Agnieska had returned to the couple’s Torquay home to find that her 26-year-old husband had left a four-page suicide note. The alarm was raised.

Shortly afterwards, Constable Ben Bickford attempted to stop him on a dual-carriageway outside of the Devon town after he had taken advice from more senior officers.

Using police lights, sirens and hand-signals, the policeman attempted to bring Mr Wojciechowski’s car to a halt. However, the Polishman crossed the road and struck the Irish family’s car.

The crash killed Oisin Twomey outright from neck and head injuries, the jury found, while Mr Wojciechowski died later in a local hospital. Mr Twomey died 10 months later from his injuries.

Mrs Twomey received serious head injuries. She was 24 weeks pregnant with a baby daughter, who was still-born as a result of injuries received. She was christened Elber Marie, the inquest was told.

The inquest was adjourned last month after Devon and Cornwall police went to the High Court to prevent any findings being made that were critical of the force’s rules and procedures.

Clearly unhappy with the force’s High Court action, the coroner said such challenges “must be avoided” in future when bereaved families are the ones who “require closure”.

He said he will urge the Association of Chief Police Officers to review the procedures used by all English and Welsh police forces when dealing with suicidal people.

Such a review may require a review to be carried out with other State agencies and “future collaborative work” with health agencies, Mr Abbott declared.

He said he had made it clear from the beginning “that no-one was on trial in this court”, adding that no-one should lose sight of the fact “that inquests are stressful for witnesses and the bereaved”.

Paying tribute to PC Bickford, the coroner said the officer, who was present for today’s hearing, had behaved on the day “in an exemplary fashion. He had done what he could, given his training and experience, to help a suicidal man. Later he was “particularly courageous” when he helped injured members of the Twomey family.

In a brief statement afterwards, Mrs Agnieska Wojciechowska said she had “endless sympathy” for Mrs Twomey and prayed “for her husband, her son and unborn child.

“No one should have to go through this. I just hope that in the future lessons can be learnt about how people who are at risk of suicide are handled which might such a tragedy happening again.

“I have lost my husband and my friend and my children have lost their father. We all loved him so much and pray for him every day,” said Mrs Wojciechowska, who remains living in Devon.

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