A senior coroner has ordered a reconstruction of the events that led to the death of a teenage footballer, five years after he was killed, as he questioned whether police followed the correct procedures when investigating the incident.
A pre-inquest review into the death of 15-year-old Dylan Crossey, who was killed in a hit and run in Whitestake in 2016, heard that senior coroner, James Adeley had concerns over the force’s transparency after they failed to disclose internal and external reports into the investigation with Dylan’s family following his death.
Mr Adeley also questioned why a blood sample taken from the driver of the vehicle that killed the talented footballer, some seven hours later, was not analysed but was left in a fridge and then later destroyed.
Dylan, a pupil at All Hallows Catholic High School in Penwortham, Preston, was cycling along Chain House Lane with his friend when he was killed after a car being driven by David Harwood ploughed into him at around 11pm in October 2016.
Following his death, criminal proceedings were brought against Mr Harwood, but he was found not guilty of causing death by dangerous or careless driving after a trial collapsed in 2018 when Judge Graham Knowles said there was insufficient evidence to proceed.
Tracey Milligan, Dylan’s mother, who lives in Buckshaw Village, raised questions about the force’s investigation into Dylan’s death.
At the pre-inquest review at Preston Coroner’s Court on Thursday, a solicitor for her family, Sefton Kwasnik, asked Mr Adeley whether he was aware that Mr Harwood was a ’25 per cent share holder in a business, HP Panel Craft Ltd, that carried out repairs for police fleet vehicles’.
He said the family did not know whether this was a feature of the internal or external review into the handling of the prosecution, or whether it had been appropriate for the police to continue with their investigation due to the working relationship between the suspect and the police.
Mr Kwasnik said: “In that knowledge, should this constabulary have outsourced this investigation to a different police force?”
However, a solicitor for Mr Harwood, David Woods, said: “He did work for and have a shareholding of 25 per cent in a company owned by him, his brother and two cousins. They had a contract with the police for recovering vehicles but Mr Harwood was not directly involved with this contract.”
Mr Harwood blew a double negative on a breath test following the incident, but when discussing Mr Harwood’s blood sample, which was destroyed, Mr Adeley said: “Was it not thought to test the sample for other substances, such as social drugs? Why was this not done? I want that custody record.”
He added: “It seems to me a full explanation should be given to the family, and I will go to the deputy chief constable and the police and crime commissioner and demand a full explanation and disclosure, and if this does not happen I will deal with it in court and consider Lancashire Police fair game for any learning.”
Mr Adeley ordered the inquest to be held with a jury and ordered around 15 witnesses, including police and medical experts, be called to the five-day hearing, which is set to begin on September 20.
Following the pre-inquest review, Mr Kwasnik, speaking on behalf of Dylan’s family, said: “We are very grateful that a senior coroner has been as forceful with the police as he demonstrated today in terms of asking them to now deliver transparency to Tracey.
“She was visited by the police shortly after the trial and they were suggesting that she might not want to have an inquest, so for her to now come this far is comforting.
“You will have heard in court reference to the attempts made on Tracey’s behalf to see the external review that Lancashire Police resourced.
“Tracey’s MP Lindsay Hoyle, who is now the Speaker of the House of Commons, also asked to see the review and couldn’t get it. Tracey couldn’t get it.
“But now hopefully the police will provide that and we welcome the fact that if the police aren’t transparent the coroner will deal with these issues in the course of the inquest.
“Tracey can now get in her head that on September 20 the evidence can be re-presented and a jury will make a final determination which a criminal procedure didn’t achieve.
“There have been significant delays in this case in terms of disclosure. At one point the coroner had to issue the police with a compulsory demand that they disclose and the delays have impacted on Tracey and her family.
“People who are familiar with grief will know that an inquest can be the next step in dealing with that grief. Tracey has not had that.
“Having the facts established to what has most likely to have happened on that night will be the best outcome.”