sport

Maynard death ruled accidental

An inquest at Westminster Coroner's Court has returned a verdict of accidental death in the case of Surrey batsman Tom Maynard.

Maynard, who had been widely tipped as a future England international, was found dead near Wimbledon Park station on the London Underground District line shortly after 5am on Monday June 18 last year.

The inquest heard he was struck by a train as he attempted to flee police after driving while on a cocktail of drink and drugs.

The 23-year-old Surrey batsman suffered multiple injuries caused by the impact of the train and from touching a live electric railway line, Westminster Coroner's Court heard.

He was stopped by police less than an hour before his death when his black Mercedes was seen driving erratically but the sports star fled the vehicle.

A post-mortem examination showed he was nearly four times the legal limit to drive and had also taken cocaine and ecstasy in the form of MDMA after a night out with two team-mates.

Tests on hair samples indicted Mr Maynard may have been a daily user of drugs in the three and a half months before his death, the inquest heard.

Forensic pathologist Dr Simon Poole told the inquest jury that Mr Maynard suffered burns to his feet, ankles and shin which were consistent with injuries suffered by skin touching live railway tracks.

It was not possible to say, however, whether electrocution or the impact with the train caused Mr Maynard's death, he added.

A cause of death was given as multiple injuries.

Post-mortem tests indicted high levels of alcohol in Mr Maynard's urine, as well as the presence of MDMA, cocaine and the compound cocaethylene, the inquest heard.

In a statement, Dr Rosa Cordero said analysis of hair samples showed positive results for the presence of MDMA and cocaine levels between 8.7 and 10 nanograms per milligram, which matched some daily users of the drug.

The jury retired to consider its verdict on Tuesday afternoon as Mr Maynard's family said his death had left a "huge hole in all our lives".

In a statement issued through the Professional Cricketers' Association, they said: "The results of the inquest do not define our son. The fact that so very many people thought the world of him is what defines him as a person.

"The only people who would judge Tom on the findings of the inquest are people who didn't know him. He made choices that night that tragically cost him his life, but his devastated family and friends will love and miss him unconditionally, always.

"He was a very special person and his death leaves a huge hole in all our lives."

Surrey and the England and Wales Cricket Board released a joint statement after the verdict which read: "In the light of today's verdict, ECB and Surrey CCC would like to re-iterate that this incident was a terrible human tragedy and again extend our condolences to the Maynard family and to Tom Maynard's many friends and colleagues within the professional game.

"While the ECB accepts that recreational drug use is a part of modern society, we do not condone it and will take all reasonable steps to prevent its use within the game. The ECB board has recently agreed to develop an out of competition testing programme to encompass recreational drugs, in co-operation with the PCA.

"ECB and Surrey CCC would like to end by echoing the statement issued by the Maynard family earlier today. The results of this inquest do not define Tom Maynard or alter in any way the tragedy of his passing. Tom was a great man and a great cricketer and will be remembered forever by everyone who had the privilege to know him."

England fast bowler Jade Dernbach and former Surrey captain Rory Hamilton-Brown gave evidence at the hearing after they were among the last few people to see Mr Maynard alive.

Both players told the court they were unaware Mr Maynard had ever taken drugs, which would result in a two-year ban from the sport.

Asked by coroner Dr Fiona Wilcox whether he knew Mr Maynard used cocaine on an almost daily basis, Mr Dernbach replied: "I was unaware of that."

The inquest heard Mr Maynard had been disciplined by Surrey after an incident in Brighton a week before his death, where he had been run over and injured himself after drinking alcohol.

Mr Hamilton-Brown told the jury this was Mr Maynard's first breach of discipline with the club and paid tribute to his team-mate.

"I was jealous of his ability to celebrate highsg and lows and stay level," he said.

"I'd describe him as an incredibly level guy with so much talent in all facets of life."

The three players had been drinking heavily on June 17 after losing a Twenty20 match against Kent.

They went to the Ship Inn pub in Wandsworth, south London, before continuing to drink at the home Mr Maynard shared with Mr Hamilton-Brown.

They arrived later at Aura nightclub in London before leaving with three sisters they had met and returning home.

One of the women, Georgina Williams, said she saw Mr Maynard leave his property at about 3.15am.

Mr Maynard's girlfriend Carly Baker wept throughout Tuesday's hearing as she listened to the evidence.

She told the court Mr Maynard had called her at about 3.30am on June 18 after he had been out drinking with friends.

Miss Baker said in a statement: "I tried to persuade him not to come because I was so worried that he was getting into his car after drinking."

She continued to speak to her boyfriend on the telephone while he was driving until he no longer answered his phone.

PC David Wishart told the inquest that he and his colleague PC Tahla Wallond were travelling in an unmarked police car when they spotted Mr Maynard's black Mercedes driving erratically.

After following the car, it came to a stop and performed a U-turn to face the officers.

PC Wishart got out of his car and ordered Mr Maynard to wait, but he ran off and managed to flee the officers, the inquest heard.

In a statement, Tube driver Martin Hopping said he believed he was approaching "bags of white ballast" before realising a body was lying on the tracks.

He applied the brakes and sounded the train's horn but struck the body at about 5am.

Cardiff-born Maynard, who came through the ranks at Glamorgan and was the son of former England and Glamorgan batsman Matthew Maynard, earned himself a place on the England Lions tour to Bangladesh and Sri Lanka at the start of last year.

A charity, The Tom Maynard Trust, was launched in his memory at a fixture between Surrey and Glamorgan at The Oval in August, which helps young people in cricket and other sports develop their careers.