Ninfield grandfather died in A269 collision just weeks after wife’s death

Valerie Rees's inquest was held at Muriel Matters House, in Hastings
Valerie Rees's inquest was held at Muriel Matters House, in Hastings

A Ninfield grandfather died in a single-vehicle collision on the A269 just weeks after the death of his wife of almost 59 years, an inquest heard.

Robin Brann, of The Green, died on August 12, 2018 when his Fiat Punto collided with a telegraph pole between Ninfield and Boreham Street shortly after 2am.

An inquest, held in Hastings, today (Tuesday, March 5) heard Mr Brann, 80, was struggling to sleep following the death of his wife Pamela on July 21.

On the day of the collision, a neighbour heard Mr Brann getting into his vehicle and driving away from his property at approximately 2am on Sunday, August 12.

The court heard Mr Brann was driving alone at the time of the collision and no evidence was found to suggest any other vehicles were involved.

The court heard that Mr Brann – who was wearing only boxer shorts and no shoes – was driving west from his address towards Boreham Street when he attempted to negotiate a slight left hand turn.

PC Stephen Ashby, a forensic collision investigator with Sussex Police, said the evidence suggested Mr Brann took the left hand turn ‘as a straight line’ before the front offside of his vehicle collided with a telegraph pole, which caused the pole to snap and his car to swivel clockwise before it came to a stop a short distance from the telegraph pole, facing the opposite direction.

PC Ashby added: “Mr Brann’s vehicle was involved in a collision with a telegraph pole on the other side of the road. As he negotiated a left hand turn, he kept a straight line and hit the pole and swung round it in a clockwise direction before separating from it and coming to a stop facing eastwards – the opposite way to how he had been driving.”

PC Ashby said there was minimal evidence to suggest any braking from Mr Brann before the collision or any evidence to suggest a seatbelt was being worn at the time.

The court heard Mr Brann suffered injuries to the front of his head which PC Ashby said was consistent with him hitting the inside of the windscreen.

PC Ashby told the court Mr Brann was found lying in the road a short distance from his vehicle but could not definitely conclude how he came to be there.

He said: “It is possible he was ejected from the vehicle during its ferocious and swift turn around the telegraph pole.

“However, I cannot rule out he walked from the vehicle and sustained fractures to the back of his head when he fell onto the road.

“As for the actions and inactions of Mr Brann (before the collision), and the fact he was suffering from a lack of sleep, it may be possible he fell asleep at the wheel.”

Mr Brann was pronounced dead at the scene despite the best efforts of paramedics at 3.18am, the court heard.

PC Ashby said he could not rule out the collision was a deliberate act, however, assistant coroner Fiona King felt there was insufficient evidence to suggest it was suicide.

Returning a verdict of death by misadventure, she said: “The evidence shows this accident happened at 2am while the deceased was not dressed – he was wearing just boxer shorts and no shoes.

“There is no evidence to suggest he was attending an emergency and it’s quite possible he was going for a drive as he was not feeling well.

“It is possible the accident was caused by another car or an animal or it’s possible he fell asleep at the wheel.”

In a statement read to the court, Mr Brann’s daughter Julie Pooley said her father had been married to her mother Pamela for almost 59 years.

However, after Pamela died in July 2018, Mrs Pooley said her father had struggled to come to terms with it and had not been sleeping well but seemed brighter in the days before the collision.

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