The family of a young man who lost his life after crashing during a police chase say he “wasn’t the monster people will think he was”.
Taylor Perkins – who had high levels of methamphetamine in his system – was killed when his Audi TT collided with a bus in Manston as he was pursued by officers in a patrol car.
But his loved ones say the circumstances of his death do not truly reflect the character of the football-mad 23-year-old.
His devastated grandmother, Gaynor Perkins, says they want him to instead be remembered as someone who loved his family and was “incredibly loyal”.
“He wasn’t the monster people will think he was,” she said.
“For me, he was my first grandchild born on my birthday. He also supported the air ambulance and raised lots of money for them for quite a while.
“He was very funny with a weird sense of humour and incredibly loyal; he absolutely loved us as his family.
“My birthday is obviously very hard to celebrate now as he is no longer here to celebrate it with us.”
An inquest into Mr Perkins’ death was held in Maidstone on Thursday.
The hearing was told he was involved in a police pursuit after failing to stop for officers in Shottendane Road, near the former Manston Airport site, on August 9 last year.
As the chase reached Spitfire Way, Mr Perkins attempted to overtake a black Vauxhall, but crashed into an oncoming bus.
The inquest heard Mr Perkins had tried to pull in ahead of the Vauxhall, but his car struck the front of the double-decker.
The impact sent the Audi spinning into the side of the bus and then across the road and into a fence.
Despite the best efforts of police and paramedics, Mr Perkins was pronounced dead at the scene, with a post-mortem examination later ruling he had died from multiple serious injuries.
A pathologist also found his body contained extremely high levels of methamphetamine - a Class A drug used recreationally as a stimulant.
Tests showed he had 818 micrograms of the substance per litre of blood in his system – the legal limit for driving is 10.
Investigators found no faults with the road or vehicle that could have contributed to the crash, while there was thought to be a 165-metre stretch of visibility along the section of Spitfire Road, which was described as a “sweeping left-hand bend”.
Due to the involvement of its officers in the pursuit, Kent Police referred the death to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC), with the watchdog finding no wrongdoing.
An IOPC spokesman told KentOnline: “We established that two Kent officers were on patrol in the area in an unmarked police vehicle due to intelligence relating to possible drug storage and supply linked to a number of vehicles.
“The officers in the unmarked car reported a vehicle of interest parked and unattended. While the officers were considering what action to take, an unidentified driver approached the vehicle and drove away.
“The officers in the unmarked car followed it at a distance while they requested additional support.
“A marked police vehicle then also began following the suspect vehicle and shortly afterwards Mr Perkins accelerated away from police.
“The officer in the marked vehicle has initiated a short pursuit but lost sight of the vehicle.”
The spokesman said approximately two-and-a-half minutes later Mr Perkins’ vehicle was involved in the collision with the bus.
“Police officers and paramedics provided first aid but he sadly died at the scene,” he explained.
“After being notified by Kent Police, we sent investigators to the site of the collision and to the police post-incident procedures.
“We reviewed CCTV footage, dashcam footage and police body-worn footage. Statements were obtained from both officers and members of the public.
“Our investigation, which concluded in June, found there was no indication that any of the officers involved behaved in a manner that justified disciplinary proceedings or had committed a criminal offence.
“Our sympathies remain with Mr Perkins’ family and they have been notified about the outcome of our investigation.”
No one else was injured in the crash, but Mrs Perkins says her family continue to think about the psychological impact on the bus driver involved.
“We can’t imagine what he’s been going through,” she said.
“We wanted to reach out before, but it was too soon. However, we have all been thinking of him and how it must affect him now.”
Area coroner Sarah Clarke concluded Mr Perkins’ death had been due to a road traffic collision.
Speaking after the hearing, his grandmother said: “We will always remember Taylor as the lovely, football-mad boy that he was.
“He loved Manchester United and would go up there to see them whenever he could.
“His death did not reflect him as a person.”