Ex-England rugby starlet and pal died after drink and drugs horror smash in mum’s car, inquest hears

A former England youth rugby player and his pal died after taking a concoction of drink and drugs before crashing his mum’s car in Radcliffe, an inquest has heard.

Jack Christian, 22, and Lee Perris, 23, had been drinking and taking drugs before taking Mr Perris’s mother’s car and driving it off on a frosty night without clearing the windscreen properly.

Mr Christian crashed the VW Polo after taking a bend driving at around 60mph while a police patrol car was in pursuit with its emergency sirens turned.

One witness who was travelling in opposite direction to the pair at around 3.20am said it had been ‘a particularly bad night’ in terms of the weather.

Steven Weaver said: “It was absolutely crazy. He was going far too fast for the road conditions. I thought that he was coming at some speed so I eased off my speed. I didn’t think the guy was going to make the corner.

“He was on his own side initially. When he started to take the corner he came onto my side. I applied the brakes and pulled over.

“I’m no professional driver, he was doing at least 60mph round the corner he must have been.”

He added that his car ‘rocked’ as the Polo went past.

HEART OF GOLD: Jack was well loved among his freinds and family

At an inquest into the death of the two friends police officers said they had spotted the car go past them at speed and had concerns because it appeared the windscreen of the vehicle was obscured by either ice or condensation.

They began to pursue the car but within seconds caught up to the vehicle to find it had crashed. Witnesses said the car had flipped four times through the air before coming to halt on its roof.

Mr Christian, who ran his own electrician business, was taken from the vehicle, which he was not insured to drive, and resuscitation attempts were made but he was pronounced dead at the scene.

Mr Perris was pronounced dead while still in the car.

The jury at the inquest in Oldham, Greater Manchester, heard that Mr Christian and Mr Perris had been drinking on the night at Mr Perris’s flat in Radcliffe, Greater Manchester, but had run out of alcohol.

They took a taxi to Mr Christian’s mother’s house, also in Radcliffe, to get more drink before they took the keys to his mother’s car and attempted to drive back to Mr Perri’s flat.

The jury was told that a police car noticed the car at around 3.20am on December 2, 2012, and had been concerned that the driver’s visibility was impaired.

Upon activating the emergency sirens a brief pursuit ensued before officers lost sight of the VW.

The car was said to have taken a blind bend in what one witness described as ‘absolutely crazy’ and estimated that the vehicle had been travelling at around 60mph.

The vehicle was then said to have swerved out of control before it flipped four times before crashing into the tree killing both men in a ‘catastrophic collision’.

The inquest head from Jack’s mum, Nicola Christian, who said she had heard the duo come back to her house during the early hours after earlier dropping Jack off at Lee’s flat in Radcliffe.

She told the inquest that in the days before her son’s death she had bought de-icer because the weather ‘had turned’ and which she had kept it in the boot of the car.

The inquest was told that in the early hours of December 2 she was awoken at around 3am to the voices of her son and friend who had appeared ‘jolly’.

SHINING STAR: Jack looked to have a bright future in rugby after representing his country

She said the pair had not seemed intoxicated and had apologised for waking her up.

Mr Weaver told the jury that it was cold and icy on the night and he had had to keep his van running in order to keep it defrosted because the van had been frozen inside and out.

“The windscreen was either condensed or still frozen. The lights seemed to bounce off so I couldn’t see anyone in it. That’s how it appeared,” he said.

“I couldn’t see who was in the car and it was going that fast it past me in a blink of an eye. It came round the corner and then it had gone.”

He said that as he carried on he saw the police vehicle with its blue lights on travelling in the same direction as the VW towards Radcliffe.

“I put two and two together with him travelling at speed, I thought, ‘he is after that fella’,” he said.

“The police car was nowhere near. There was 300-400 yards in between the police car and the VW. I actually thought ‘why are you driving like that?’ when the police were so far back.

“The speed he was going , I felt he was going to have an accident at some point.”

Taxi driver Amjid Farooq said that the VW ‘swung past’ his taxi and crashed around 50 yards in front of him.

He told the inquest: “It was coming so fast. It just swung in, he did try to control it but he couldn’t do it. The car flipped over it was right in front of me. I put my brakes on.

“It just flipped over three or four times at least before it impacted the tree. I was really shocked I couldn’t look at the car. I said to the passenger ‘did you see that’.

“Ten seconds after the police came past me. I was just shocked I didn’t remember much.”

A post mortem examination revealed that both men suffered intracranial haemorrhage, skull fractures and multiple soft tissue injuries and bruising.

Toxicology reports showed that the men had taken alcohol, cocaine and amphetamines (MDMA).

Mr Perris was also found to have had cannabis in his system.

In a statement read at the inquest Mrs Christian described her son as a ‘hard working scholar’ who left school with good qualifications.

She added that her son was ‘an excellent’ rugby player who had played for Rochdale Rugby Club before he was selected to play for England at the age of 14.

However due to a shoulder injury he quit the sport.

In 2009 he qualified as an electrician and set up his own business, securing contracts for major supermarkets.

Mrs Christian described him as a ‘caring young man with a heart of gold and would do anything for anybody’.

She added: “He was very happy with his life, he had a good career and a good circle of friends.”

The court heard that the two pals had been drinking at Lee’s flat in Radcliffe with Lee’s girlfriend Jessica Higgs.

She told the inquest that she arrived at the flat at around 10pm and that the men were drinking two bottles of the two litre Frosty Jack cider with cordial.

She added that they were dancing and listening to music but that the men had not seemed intoxicated.

REST IN PEACE: The had taken drugs and drank cheap cider on the night of the crash

She said that after they had ran out of alcohol and Mr Christian said he had a bottle of alcohol at his house and called a taxi in order to get it.

Miss Higgs said that she gave Lee enough money to pay for the fare there and back and also gave her bank card so that he could get cigarettes.

She said she remained at the flat but became worried that they had not returned after an hour.

She said: “I recall just waiting for a long time. I was watching the telly for about an hour. After an hour I just started to worry and looking out of the window.

“I was trying to ring but couldn’t get through to either phones. I was messaging Lee on Facebook in case he had access. Watching out all night the roads were white, frosty.

“I just remember waiting. I think it was about 7am and I just remember hearing a knock on the door. I thought it was them but it was two policemen.”

She added that the weather conditions that night had been ‘really, really, slippy’.

The inquest, which is expected to last for three days, continues.

Story via Cavendish Press.

Related Articles