Open verdict recorded into death of motorist on causeway

St Mary's Lighthouse on St Mary's Island.'Picture by Jane Coltman
St Mary's Lighthouse on St Mary's Island.'Picture by Jane Coltman

Questions still remain over the death of a motorist found on St Mary’s Island causeway just after Christmas.

Terence Brown was discovered in his overturned car just after 7am on December 27 last year.

Emergency services were called to the scene, but the 56-year-old was pronounced dead by paramedics.

An inquest held at Howard House, North Shields, today (Thursday) heard about Mr Brown’s last few days leading up to the incident.

Mr Brown, of Otterburn Close, Whitley Bay, had been admitted to hospital in the early hours of December 26 after he stabbed himself in the stomach.

He was treated by doctors and seen by officials from the Crisis Team, where he said he was drinking up to half a bottle of vodka a day since his mother’s death in 2008 and had self-harmed in the past.

Mr Brown was discharged and was last seen by a neighbour entering his flat that afternoon.

The inquest heard that three men had been leaving St Mary’s Island car park at 3am on December 27 when a Proton car, believed to be driven by Mr Brown, passed them in the opposite direction at high speed.

One thought he heard a loud bang but they left the scene unaware of what had happened.

North Tyneside Coroner Eric Armstrong said the car drove down the ramp towards the causeway, hitting the sea and may have rolled over.

Mr Brown died as a result of a fractured skull and severe traumatic brain injury.

Recording an open verdict, Mr Armstrong said: “It would not be wrong to consider Mr Brown attempted to take his own life.

“What I find difficult to reconcile is that the method of trying to take his own life was extremely problematic, there was no guarantee driving down the ramp and into the water was going to do that.

“He could not have forecast the car would overturn and he would suffer those head injuries.

“Could he have formed no serious attempt to take his own life?

“It could have been accidental. There is no clear cut evidence pointing to any conclusion.

“The only conclusion I can record is open. There remains doubt to his intentions.

“What he attempted by his actions remain unknown.”

Verdict: Open