Sir Arthur Conan Doyle said that “when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.”
Just as I have done, you the reader must separate the impossible from the truth.
This is my conclusion but I am not a trained accident investigator so you are free to use your own judgement as to how close it is to the truth. I appreciate you will not have seen all the available evidence at this stage.
My findings are based solely on the evidence in Reports provided by expert examiners in their field who have each received full and verified detailed evidence of the scene and from photographs and measurements and details collected by me and others. No evidence from Police or Forensics (other than photographs) was used as those were considered false or tainted or incompetently collected.
A reminder of the scene
About 4 weeks before the crash, Carson took his Subaru for its scheduled service. The uni-directional tyres were found by the garage to be properly fitted. Between then and the collision, he changed all four tyres and rims and fitted them against their proper direction of rotation. This had a serious detrimental effect on handling and control in the wet, although it is often done by drivers who wish to indulge in drifting, an illegal and dangerous activity on public roads. Carson did say that he didn’t know about such things even though he has a long history of interest in, and knowledge of, cars.
On 11th November 2003, he set off from Ballymena to go to Antrim to pick up his daughter from school. It was a very wet day and the safest and most direct route was by the main A 26 . He chose instead to go the longer route via Kells and the quiet, undesignated, narrow, winding Steeple Road.
The evidence indicates that he did not bother to wear his seat belt.
The road was wet from the persistent rain.
Raymond set off from Antrim in his Nova to pick his grandchildren up at their primary school just off the Eskylane Road. He was in good time and drove at his usual 35 mph. He was in good health on the day of the collision.
About a mile from the junction with the Crosskeenan Road, Davis was spotted by witness 3, an off duty police officer, travelling at a speed of between 80 and 90 mph towards Antrim. At such a speed Carson was less than 45 seconds from the collision point. It was about now that he called his wife on the mobile phone at her office in Templepatrick, probably to tell her that he was going to pick up their daughter.
About half a mile from the crash site, he overtook a Kango van travelling in the same direction and driven by witness 4, a prison officer. He estimated the speed of the Subaru at around 80 mph. This witness was driving at around 50 to 60 mph at the time he was overtaken.
Carson approached the staggered junction still speaking on the phone to his wife. He did not slow down for any car crossing over the junction as he alleged, because no such car existed.
Witness 2, the schoolteacher, who was waiting at the stop line at Eskylane Road, watched as Carson raced past at a speed of up to 90 mph. She was fixated at his speed and watched as he went round the approaching corner ahead. He was in his own lane and she didn’t see his brake lights go on. As he passed the junction with Crosskeenan Road, the road around the corner was beginning to open out. He was now 2.3 seconds from collision, but would still not see the Nova coming in the other direction in its own lane until he had just passed the junction.
The Nova was in its own Kells bound lane approaching the bend. Its driver was just aware of the Subaru as it passed Crosskeenan Road approaching at high speed. He would have been alerted to the potential danger.
As the Subaru reached the apex of the corner, his directional control was disrupted either by the change of surface in the road before the corner, or by the reverse fitted tyres, or aquaplaning of one or more tyres, or the deliberate act of initiating a drifting manoeuvre or viloent braking. Only Carson would be in a position to know what might have happened. Certainly he had not finished the mobile call to his wife.
The loss of control resulted in the car slewing sideways and pointing at an angle of maybe 30 degrees towards the Kells bound lane. He was now only 720 milliseconds from the collision point. His direction of momentum was still parallel to the Antrim bound lane. The Subaru was over 14 feet long and was now taking up most of the Antrim bound carriageway. His wheels did not mount the verge to his left nor did his rear bodywork touch the hedge.
Raymond also had 720 milliseconds to react. He was confronted by a car apparently coming on to his side of the road. His instinctive reaction was to steer to the right in an emergency manoeuvre. With a required thinking time of 600 milliseconds his car had only enough time to point right at an angle of around 30 degrees before the collision happened. The Nova came near to or just over the centre line of the carriageway when the two vehicles collided. They met nearly head on. Evidence from Constable Cochrane would suggest the it was possible that the near side of the Nova hit the Subaru first, but it cannot be ruled out that the offside front wheel on the Nova was in line with the near side front wheel of the Subaru and that this contact acted as a fender. The outcome would have been the same.
The Subaru forced the Nova’s front clear of the ground during body collapse and pushed and rotated it clockwise to its right. This rotation would have minimally occurred over one length plus of the Nova but possibly more. The windscreen was shattered and the mirror and stem and glass particles were thrown by centrifugal force into the grass verge of the Antrim bound lane. The cross member close to the inside of the front nearside wheel was bent down into a V shape The Nova came down heavily after rotation and this bent metal made the first deep gouge. As the Nova continued to travel essentially in a straight line towards the hedge, it was bouncing and swaying under the twin influence of the collapsed wheel and vertical oscillation and a further three gouge marks were made. The oscillations died down, the damaged front wings were dragged under their respective wheels and the Nova mounted the verge.
The Nova’s engine had stalled, it was in gear, the underside was damaged, and its front wheels had collapsed so it could be considered to be fully braked on the way to its rest position.
It mounted the verge and hit the side of the hedge at an angle of about 10 degrees glancing off it and collecting hedge debris under its nearside bonnet. It hit the hedge at a relatively slow speed. It caused some damage to the hedge which had acted somewhat as a crash barrier and forced the front of the Nova into the carriageway to a position right of its final rest position.
At the point of collision, the Subaru driver was flung forward and his head hit the windscreen to the left of his steering wheel before being saved by activation of the airbag. His nearside wheel was punctured and collapsed. His speed was reduced and his tyres gripped again. His car’s momentum vector, modified to his left, veered his car to the left at an angle along the Antrim bound lane towards the Nova. He caught up with the Nova before it came to rest with its nose in the Antrim bound carriageway and crashed into it at a relatively slow speed. It scraped along the Nova’s offside, leaving horizontal score marks along the Subaru’s nearside and depositing paint on the Nova’s damaged driver’s door as detailed by Constable Cochrane. The fresh debris seen clearly in Police photograph at the side of the Nova’s front offside wing is the result of this second collision. The Nova was pushed back against the hedge, and the Subaru’s path was altered to the right to its final rest position straddling the centre line.
(The damage to the rear offside wing is irrelevant. All the marks were caused by a previous incident.)
Carson’s mobile phone was still functioning in the car and his wife heard the crash and heard him say “I’m wrecked, I’m wrecked.” She put down her phone and raced to the scene.
Witness 2 saw the debris flying in the air over the hedge but did not see what the Subaru had crashed into, confirming that the collision had happened on the Kells bound lane and no closer to the Antrim bound lane than the centre line. She got out of her car and made her way to the boot to recover her mobile phone.
Witness 4 was half a mile from the scene when he was overtaken by the Subaru at speed. If he was travelling at 50 mph to 60 mph, he was turning into Crosskeenan Road about 12 seconds after the collision occurred. He saw Witness 2 at the boot of her car. He was the first person to call the Police, and the call on his mobile account showed that it was made at 1449. The time of the collision must have been at somewhere between 1448 and 1449.
Witness 1 was the first to arrive at the scene from the Antrim side where he found the road ahead blocked by the Subaru. After checking the two drivers, he telephoned the Ambulance Service. This call was received by their Controller at 1449. The call was made before he removed Carson from the car.
This evidence shows that the accident happened at or around 1449 with a margin of 30 seconds either side allowing for rounding up or down of the nearest minute as recorded on mobile accounts. The Police and Ombudsman’s response to this evidence will be explored in a later post.
Accident investigation is not a precise science but it is also true that a collision has but one true history. In this case, all of the evidence points to the events which I have described. The provable evidence dismisses outright the impossible scenarios described by the Police and the Forensic Officer.
The final decision is left to you.
If the police and/or the Forensic Officer had done their duty, then there is no doubt that, at the very least, they would have garnered sufficient evidence for a case of causing death by dangerous driving against Carson could have been considered by the Court.
To prevent that, it was decided to forge or corrupt the evidence.
The next post will be about the actions of the Police Family Liaison Officer.