Coroner urges people not to drink and drive after tragic loss of father-of-four who grew up in Letchworth

Shane Willett.

Shane Willett. - Credit: Archant

A coroner has urged people not to drink and drive after the tragic loss of a father-of-four who grew up in Letchworth.

Shane Willett died instantly from severe burns after crashing his car into a wall in Weston in the early hours of a Sunday morning on October 26 last year, an inquest heard yesterday.

The inquest found that the 36-year-old lorry driver had been travelling at a projected speed of 61mph in a 30mph speed limit as he travelled home to Weston after an evening in Hitchin, and was more than twice the legal drink driving limit.

After losing control of his car while driving round a bend on Hitchin Road, Shane’s blue Peugeot 306 collided with the wall, went up in flames and ended up on its side.

Coroner Edward Thomas, who was conducting the inquest at Hatfield Coroner’s Court, said: “It is very sad that Shane died in such awful circumstances.

“What should have been a pleasant evening ended in an absolute disaster, due to a series of misjudgments.

“There were many people who cared about Shane a lot, and he was very fond of them.

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“I hope that people do think carefully about driving on country roads, and driving faster than they should. It is so sad and so tragic, if people could only see the affect it has on people they would not drink and drive.”

A forensic investigation also found that a front and back tyre of Shane’s car had been lower than the legal requirement but, due to the clear and dry conditions, the investigating officer concluded that this would not have made a significant difference.

Shane – who attended Radburn Primary School in Letchworth as it was then known and Knights Templar School in Baldock – worked as a postman for a number of years before working for Balfour Beatty and Essential Water Services in Letchworth, repairing burst pipes in underground water mains.

After getting his heavy goods vehicle driver training licence, he got a delivery driver job working for Allied Bakeries in Stevenage.

Shane – who lived in Letchworth and Stotfold before moving to Weston – had taken his ADR test to drive large tanker lorries in the week leading up to his death.