Alcohol and ‘potentially toxic’ levels of MDMA were found in the body of a soldier who died when the car he was driving crashed into a lorry, an inquest has heard.
Pte Warren Carter, 24, of The Second Battalion, The Royal Anglian Regiment (The Poachers) was taking his four passengers back to Kendrew Barracks in Cottesmore after a night out in Leicester, when the incident occured.
It happened on the A6003 near Gunthorpe at about 5.15am on December 9.
Footage from a camera fitted to the dashboard of the lorry involved in the collision was shown to the inquest at Loughborough Coroners’ Court on Wednesday.
It showed Pte Carter’s white Vauxhall Corsa on the wrong side of the road as it rounded the bend under the Manton railway bridge heading towards Oakham. It then hit the front of the lorry on the driver’s side.
The lorry driver Andrew Seivewright, of Oakham, told the inquest: “Approaching the scene of the accident I saw the headlights coming round the railway bridge. Next thing I know the car was in the middle of the road straddling the double white lines. I thought ‘what the hell is he doing?’”
After the crash, Mr Seivewright came to a halt on the grass verge where the car had also come to a rest.
A post-mortem examination carried out at Leicester Royal Infirmary by Dr Michael Biggs concluded that Pte Carter had “died very rapidly” as a result of head and chest injuries.
Toxicologist Dr Paul Smith told the inquest that Pte Carter had a ‘potentially toxic level’ of the drug MDMA in his body, 2,546 nanogrammes.
He was also found to have had 111 microgrammes of alcohol in a 100 millilitres blood sample. The legal limit is 80 microgrammes.
Dr Smith said: “The evidence suggests MDMA was taken recently prior to death.
“Studies on the effects of ecstasy conclude intoxication can make it seem fine to drive though feelings of alertness.”
Investigations led by PC Ian Brown found there was no evidence that either of the vehicles involved was breaking the 50mph speed limit.
Among the passengers, Pte Bradley Swaine was in the front seat of the car.
In a statement to the inquest, Pte Swaine described Pte Carter, originally from Cambridge, as a “larger than life character”.
He said of the night: “He seemed his normal happy self but I think he’d been drinking alcohol but I didn’t think it was noticeable.”
Carter had the radio on and he was in a good mood singing along.
“I’m not sure he was paying attention. On two or three occasions we bounced off curbs but we didn’t think that much of it. I woke up in an ambulance.”
Pte Jordan Bannister also gave a statement, saying he didn’t remember getting in the car or any of the journey.
“I just remember waking up in the grass outside the car.”
Coroner Carolyn Hull gave the verdict as road traffic accident.
She said to the family in attendance: “It may be of some comfort to know Wayne would not have suffered.
“He had his whole life before him. This was a tragic accident.”
The Ministry of Defence was represented at the inquest but declined to give a statement, as did Pte Carter’s family.
But following his death, Pte Carter, a father, was described as a “dedicated soldier” who “acted as a mentor for the younger men in he company, showing significant patience and emotional intelligence”.
He was also described “life and soul of the party”, who was “never without a smile on his face”.
He had served in the UK, Kenya and Germany.