Dylan Crossey Inquest: Coroner sets new jury hearing for investigation into death of Preston teenager hit by car

A top Lancashire coroner has demanded that Lancashire Police is to be more ‘transparent’ about its investigation into the death of Preston teenager Dylan Crossey.

Friday, 16th July 2021, 12:04 am

Senior coroner James Adeley this morning questioned the procedures taken by Lancashire Constabulary after Dylan’s mum Tracey Milligan claimed that police failed to share both its internal and external reports with the family following the tragic death of her son.

And he questioned why the blood samples taken from the driver of the vehicle that hit the 15-year-old took several hours to be taken, before they failed to be tested and were left in a fridge before being disposed of.

A five-day-long inquest is now finally set to take place before a jury on the week commencing September 20, more than five years after the death of the 15-year-old aspiring footballer, who was hit by a car in Whitestake in 2016.

Teenager Dylan Crossey with mum Tracey who has waited more than 5 years for an inquest into his death
Teenager Dylan Crossey with mum Tracey who has waited more than 5 years for an inquest into his death

But the new date came as a shock to the family and mum Tracey, as she confirmed that the family had not been told about the new date until this morning in court.

In today's pre-inquest review, held from 10 am at Preston Coroners Court, Fulwood, Senior Coroner James Adeley began by apologising to Dylan’s mum Tracey Milligan for the two long years she has had to wait for an inquest into the death of her son after it was postponed in March 2019.

In the review, Mr Adeley questioned the way in which Lancashire Constabulary carried out its investigations. He also:

*Ordered the force to be more transparent with the family and the courts about its findings.

The pre inquest review was held today at Preston Coroner's Court

*Asked for the force’s cooperation in organising a reconstruction of the events that happened on the night of Dylan’s death.

*Questioned why the police failed to test blood samples from driver Mr Harwood for drug or alcohol consumption.

*Granted Mrs Tracey Milligan’s wishes to hold the inquest before a jury.

It was a day that the family have anxiously waited years for, with Mr Adeley saying that “unless people are dead or cannot attend due to life-saving treatments, they will be there and the inquest will be going ahead.

Dylan, 15, was hit by a car in October 2016

“I would like to start by apologising about the length of time this has taken. Today is about ensuring the inquest runs smoothly from now on.

“This inquest will be done, it will be done quickly and it will be done right.”

Approximately 15 witnesses are expected to be called forward at different times to give their evidence over the five-day-long inquest, including coroners officers, an ICU consultant, eyewitnesses, bystanders and the leader of road safety at Lancashire Police.

It was decided by Mr James Adeley that a full reconstruction would need to take place, headed by three forensic experts, in a bid to establish the exact cause of how the teenager met his death.

The coroner called for Lancashire Police to help close Wham Lane, Whitestake, in order to emulate the events that happened on the night of his death in October 2016.

The reconstruction will find someone who is a similar height and build to Dylan, wearing the same clothes and trainers he wore on the night of the incident who will be riding a bike that matches the one Dylan was riding with his friend.

The scope of the inquest will also cover the routes taken by Dylan before the incident, the road surface, position of street lighting, the condition of his bike, the speed of the BMW that hit him, along with the actions of the driver Mr David Harwood.

The solicitor representing Dylan’s family, Mr Sefton Kwasnik, said that there had been a ‘double negative’ result when driver Mr Harwood was breathalysed hours after the incident, but that records showed Lancashire Police failed to take the subsequent blood samples until hours later.

It was then confirmed by the Lancashire Police representative that the blood samples had been stored but were never tested, and were then destroyed.

Mr Adeley added that the blood samples would have been used to determine whether the driver was under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and questioned the force as to why they were not used.

He said: "It seems to me in an age of transparency of public bodies that a full explanation should be given to the families, including the learning of information and any other matters."

Motorist David Harwood was formally acquitted of causing the death of Preston teenager Dylan Crossey by dangerous driving at Preston Session's House in 2018 due to lack of evidence.

Questions were also then raised about the relationship between Mr Harwood and the Lancashire Police force, and whether that was a factor in the investigation after it came to light that he is a 25 per cent shareholder in HP Panel Craft Ltd, a vehicle repair company that had a contract with Lancashire Constabulary to repair their vehicles at the time.

Mr Harwood’s solicitor Mr Wood then confirmed that Mr Hardwood was a shareholder in the company along with his brother and two cousins, but that his client had no dealings with the contract.

The representative from Lancashire Constabulary said it found ‘no failings in relation to the investigation’.

Mr Adeley finished today's review by expressing his apologies to Mrs Milligan, adding: "I want you to finally have some closure on this."

Speaking outside the court after the pre-inquest review, Dylan's family solicitor Mr Sefton Kwasnik told the Post: "We are very grateful that the senior coroner has been as forceful with the police as he demonstrated today, in terms of asking them to deliver transparency to Tracey.

"For her to have now come this far, it is comforting for her and the family. Tracey can now have the date in her head as when the evidence will be represented and a jury will get the opportunity to make a final determination which the criminal process didn't achieve.

"It is a question on having the facts established in relation to what is likely to have happened on the night. There have been significant delays in this case, as well as Covid-19, which have impacted on the family throughout this period.

"An inquest is always regarded as a huge milestone in the grieving process, and Tracy has not yet been able to reach that. She has been waiting and it is now in sight, so it will bring her and her family some comfort."