A young butcher, who died after crashing into a wall, had probably fallen asleep at the wheel, an inquest heard today.

Kirklees Coroner’s Court also heard 20-year-old Ben Hinchliffe was not wearing a seatbelt when his Suzuki 4x4 hit a wall at the junction of Penistone Road and Church Street, New Mill, on October 29.

Mr Hinchliffe died at Huddersfield Royal Infirmary a short time later from chest injuries sustained in the crash.

Coroner Mary Burke concluded that Mr Hinchliffe, a keen badminton and darts player, died as a result of a road traffic collision.

Ms Burke stressed the importance of wearing a seatbelt.

She said: “Wearing a seatbelt can have a significant effect and can minimise the level of injury that an individual can sustain if they have the misfortune of being involved in a collision.”

The court heard Mr Hinchliffe, of Meltham, had been heading home after hunting rabbits with his girlfriend, Summer Reynolds, and a friend.

Mr Hinchliffe, who had worked as a butcher in Meltham since leaving school, had seemed tired and irritable and had been driving erratically earlier in the evening, Ms Reynolds told the inquest.

Ms Reynolds said Mr Hinchliffe had been speeding and narrowly missed an oncoming car while overtaking on a bend.

But Mr Hinchliffe’s driving had improved after her friend told him to slow down, Ms Reynolds said.

The court heard that after dropping off Ms Reynolds and her friend, Mr Hinchliffe headed home alone.

The inquest heard that Mr Hinchliffe may have slumped onto the steering wheel sounding the horn before his car slowly drifted into the oncoming lane, mounted the kerb and struck a drystone boundary wall.

Scene of accident on Penistone Road, New Mill
Scene of accident on Penistone Road, New Mill
 

Police collision investigator, Robert Eyre, told the inquest: “It had all the characteristics of the driver being unaware of the path of his vehicle by being asleep or being distracted.

“He may have slumped over the steering wheel and hit the horn after falling asleep.”

In a tribute after his death, his mother Gillian Gray, 46, of Meltham said Ben loved the outdoor life.

“He enjoyed sports and played badminton and darts in local teams and was a keen supporter of the Huddersfield Giants Rugby team.

“His life revolved around the great outdoors and the lovely countryside of Yorkshire.

“Many hours were spent fishing with his dad, grandad, family and friends.

“He enjoyed clay pigeon shooting and was well-known in the local farming community where he had many walks with his springer spaniel, Jake.”

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