BBC news 7 Feb 03

7th February 2003                                                                                      Index

'Accident verdicts on race track deaths'

Jurors were split on whether a marshal died accidentally.

Verdicts of accidental death have been recorded on a driver and marshal who died after a crash in a motor race. But, while the verdict on the driver was unanimous, not all the jurors agreed the marshal died accidentally. Only six of the eight jurors agreed, but the coroner accepted a majority verdict.

The two men died in June 2000 after the crash in a race at the Goodwood Festival of Speed. Errors of judgment Amateur racing driver John Dawson-Damer, 59, from Australia, died instantly when his Lotus 63 sports car left the track and hit a finish line gantry at the West Sussex circuit. Marshal Andrew Carpenter, 40, who was hit by the car, died in hospital in Chichester from his injuries.

West Sussex coroner Roger Stone told the jurors there was insufficient evidence to suggest either man had been unlawfully killed. He said some safety officials may have made errors of judgement but nobody at the Goodwood track had been grossly negligent. After an hour-and-a-half of deliberation the inquest jury returned to the courtroom to say they had agreed a unanimous verdict on Mr Dawson-Damer and a majority verdict on Mr Carpenter, of Polegate, East Sussex.

After the inquest, Mr Carpenter's fellow marshal, Steve Tarrant, who lost a leg in the accident, said he thought there was proof safety officials should have vetoed the gantry structure and that if it had not been there, Mr Carpenter would not have died.

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