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Lucy Leadbeater and Casey Hood inquest reveals driver was over alcohol limit at time of double death crash off A2 near Canterbury

A mum-of-one was over the drink drive limit at the time of a fatal crash in which she and a teenage passenger were killed, an inquest has heard today.

Lucy Leadbeater, 27, was also uninsured and said to be driving "dangerously" when she hit a tree in Womenswold, near Canterbury, in the early hours of the morning.

Lucy Leadbeater died in hospital the day after the crash
Lucy Leadbeater died in hospital the day after the crash

Casey Hood, 18, was pronounced dead the scene, while Miss Leadbeater died in hospital the following day.

The inquest was told the car had been followed by police to a lay-by off the A2, on the B2046 Adisham Road, after it was was seen driving erratically by officers near Canterbury police station.

A police van pulled into the lay-by beside the Toytota Yaris, but Miss Leadbeater drove off at speed.

Officers followed and came across the wreckage of the car on its side in Nethersole Road, Denne Hill, at about 3.50am on September 14, 2018.

Both Miss Hood and Miss Leadbeater - who were not wearing seatbelts at the time of the crash - suffered traumatic head injuries.

Casey Hood was a front-seat passenger in the car
Casey Hood was a front-seat passenger in the car

Tests later revealed Miss Leadbeater - who had been drinking with friends - had 87 milligrams of alcohol per 100ml of blood in her system.

The legal limit is 80.

Police crash investigators concluded she had lost control on a bend before hitting a tree.

Parts of the report were read out at the inquest, detailing how passengers in the rear of the Toyota were "scared" by how dangerously Miss Leadbeater was driving, and had asked her to slow down.

One even got out of the Yaris in the lay-by moments before the crash, while another had earlier pulled the handbrake in an effort to stop the car.

Police had been in pursuit for miles before they reached Womesnwold
Police had been in pursuit for miles before they reached Womesnwold

PS David Oates had been following the car for six miles before the lay-by, but was not a trained high-speed pursuit driver.

As such, he did not use his sirens and only occasionally blue lights through junctions, often losing sight of the Yaris.

Crash investigator PC Jason Heather said Miss Leadbeater - who was turning her headlights on and off - may not have known she was being followed by police.

Miss Hood's grandfather, Ray Hood, asked PC Heather why the patrol car did not pull in front of the Yaris in the lay-by, claiming this could have prevented the tragedy.

PC Heather said this was outside of his investigation's remit.

Tributes to Casey Hood were left at the roadside in Womenswold
Tributes to Casey Hood were left at the roadside in Womenswold

In a statement read out at the inquest, Miss Leadbeater's mother, Suzanne Birch, said her daughter, who lived in Hyton Drive, Deal, appeared to be reliving her youth and enjoying a party life.

On the night of the tragedy she was out with Casey and the teenager's twin, Kellis, who went home as she had work the following day.

Kellis told the inquest that Miss Leadbeater had picked her up and drunk two wines and two cocktails at The Cricketers pub in River, near Dover.

As Miss Leadbeater gave her a lift back to her grandparents' home in Whitfield, Kellis felt her driving "wasn't right".

But former Canterbury Academy pupil Casey, of Folkestone Road, Dover, was persuaded to carry on to The Cuban.

"I was so close to going out that night,” Kellis said previously. “If I had gone, I would have been in that front seat, because I knew Lucy. It’s not even sunk in yet. I can’t believe Casey’s gone.”

Natalie Hood was found dead at home by her mother
Natalie Hood was found dead at home by her mother

Assistant coroner Scott Matthewson concluded that both Miss Hood and Miss Leadbeater had died in a road traffic accident.

He said: "It is obvious from the evidence that Lucy was substantially intoxicated.

"We will never know why she drove off from the lay-by because I cannot say, on the balance of probabilities, that she was aware of the police presence."

Tragically, Casey's heartbroken mum, Natalie Hood, was found dead from a drugs overdose two days after she was killed in the crash.

The 46-year-old hairdresser was discovered lifeless at home in Dover hours after posting on Facebook: "I just want my little girl back.”

She had been given the devastating news of her daughter's death while in hospital in Epsom following a hip operation.

The tragic last post by Natalie Hood before her death
The tragic last post by Natalie Hood before her death

Two days later she was discovered dead at her flat in Temple Ewell by her own mother, Carol Hood.

An inquest into her death was opened last month and told she died from morphine toxicity.

It is due to resume and conclude this afternoon.

Carol and her husband Ray said previously that although Natalie was “in so much pain” after learning of Casey’s death, they believe she did not mean to take her own life.

The family had hoped the operation would be a turning point for the mum-of-two, who had struggled with a heroin addiction for years and had finished a six-month period in rehab earlier that year.

Carol believes that in her grief, her daughter - who grew up in Dover but moved to Canterbury when the twins were three - turned to drugs once again to stifle the pain.

“She was devastated [about Casey], as we all are," she said.

Natalie Hood and daughter Casey, when she was younger
Natalie Hood and daughter Casey, when she was younger

"She was a really, really good mum."

Hundreds packed Barham Crematorium to pay their respects to Casey and Natalie, who were laid to rest on the same day.

In her eulogy, Kellis recounted how she and her sister would swap classes to trick teachers as children and even into adulthood would phone each other every day.

"Both of you were the best mum and sister I could have ever wished and asked for," she said.

"We had so many laughs together. You have left me with so many happy memories I will cherish for the rest of my life.

Casey's twin, Kellis Hood, at the funeral of her mother and sister
Casey's twin, Kellis Hood, at the funeral of her mother and sister

"Casey tried her hardest with everything. My mum was the same too. My mum was so good to me and my sister. She tried so hard to give us everything we wanted.

"You're both going to be missed by so many people. I wish this wasn't true and it was only a dream."

The deaths marked yet more tragedy for the Hood family, who lost Natalie’s younger sister, Carla, to a drugs overdose in 2006.

For more information on why we cover inquests, click here.

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