Football star had 7 pints before fatal crash

This Is Local London: Mark Philo Mark Philo

WYCOMBE Wanderers player Mark Philo had drunk between six and seven pints of lager before the fatal car smash that killed him and a 58-year-old woman.

The 21-year-old, pictured right, was driving his silver Vauxhall Astra towards a blind crest in Sandhurst Road, Wokingham, when he veered onto the wrong side of the road and hit Patricia Gammon's Renault Megane in the early hours of January 13 this year.

He was significantly over the drink-drive limit when tests were carried out at the time of his death, an inquest heard yesterday.

The two passengers in his car, Thomas Ellis and Paul Wray, had been out drinking with the footballer before the crash.

Paul Wray, who had been friends with Mark since he was 11, told Windsor Coroner's Court the three had been drinking in the Golden Retriever pub in Wokingham, from 8.30pm until closing time.

He said: "I had probably had about seven pints of lager, Mark had less - probably five or six. We were planning to just go home, and then we drove around to see where else was open. We thought it would be all right."

The friends ended up in another bar called The Gig House, where they stayed drinking for another hour.

Witness Michael Nemeth, from Sandhurst, was walking along the straight stretch of road when the accident happened.

He told the court he saw Mark Philo's Astra swerve onto the wrong side of the road at speed.

He said: "As they passed me, I thought to myself steady on guys'. The next thing I heard was an almighty bang."

Mr Nemeth sprinted 200 metres to the scene. He said it was clear the female driver was dead and Mark Philo was seriously injured.

PC Andrew Bryant, the collision investigation officer, confirmed that Mark Philo's car was on the wrong side of the road when the smash happened. He said the dip in the road would have made seeing another car very difficult.

"The other driver would not have had time to do anything," he added.

It emerged that neither of the drivers were wearing seatbelts, but PC Bryant confirmed the nature of the collision would have meant both would have died anyway.

Mark Philo suffered horrific injuries when his car spun into a nearby telegraph pole. He died 15 hours later at 4.20pm at the Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading.

Mrs Gammon died when her car was forced into a nearby concrete gate post.

PC Bryant said: "The blame in this collision appears to lie with the driver of the Vauxhall Astra. Excess alcohol and driving over the centre of the road were contributing factors. As soon as you exceed the alcohol limit your ability to drive is significantly impaired."

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