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Family of troubled former soldier from Horsham St Faith "bears no grudge" against driver following his death

PUBLISHED: 13:23 26 November 2011

David Phillips. Pictured: David Philips aged 17.

David Phillips. Pictured: David Philips aged 17.

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The brother of a troubled former soldier who died after being hit by a car while he was standing in the middle of the road has told the driver he "bears no grudge" against him for the death, an inquest heard.

David Phillips, right, 54, of The Warren, Horsham St Faith, died from multiple injuries after being hit by a Peugeot 106 on Manor Road, close to his home, at about 7.25pm on January 22 this year.

Mr Phillips, who had post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), suffered from a series of “complex” mental health conditions, including bipolar disorder, which developed while he was in the army.

An inquest held in Norwich yesterday heard that Mr Phillips, who served in Northern Ireland, had been standing bare-chested in the middle of the road with his trousers round his knees and with his arms out when he was hit by a car being driven by Daniel Collard.

Mr Collard, who lives in Horsham St Faith, had been driving on Manor Road, which has a 30mph limit, when he suddenly saw Mr Phillips, who had been drinking and was more than twice the legal drink drive limit, standing in the road about 20ft away.

Mr Collard, who was driving with dipped headlights rather than full beams in a poorly-lit area said he thought he was travelling about 30mph when he saw Mr Phillips but “didn’t have time” to put his brakes on.

When interviewed by police after the crash Mr Collard had initially put his speed down to about 40mph.

PC Nicholas Kett, who investigated the accident, said there was insufficient evidence to calculate the speed of the car at impact but said using full beams rather than dipped headlights might have enabled Mr Collard to avoid Mr Phillips.

The inquest had earlier heard evidence from two motorists who both had to avoid Mr Phillips who had been standing in the middle of the road with his arms out. Mr Phillips’ brother Mark asked Mr Collard why it was that if two other motorists travelling at 30mph had managed to avoid Mr Phillips he was not able to do the same if he was going at the same speed. Mr Collard said he did not know “exactly how fast” he was going.

Mark said: “On behalf of the family we don’t hold any grudges against you whatsoever. We’ve had no desire for you to be prosecuted since day one - it’s not going to bring David back.”

Mark Phillips said his brother was a “kind and intelligent person who bravely served his country” and suffered from serious mental health problems for many years.

Mr Phillips was due to appear at Norwich Magistrates’ Court to be sentenced a few days after his death having previously pleading guilty to harassment - a charge relating to threats to kill his ex-partner.

The inquest heard evidence from his friend John Lenton that Mr Phillips had previously walked out in front of cars.

Mark Phillips told the inquest he had warned his brother about the consequences and said it was often a sign of when he was ill and wanted to get himself sectioned.

Gerado Rodriguez, a community mental health practitioner, said he had seen Mr Phillips on January 17 and said he had seemed “quite well” with no suicidal thoughts or notion that he might harm himself.

Norfolk Coroner William Armstrong said Mr Phillips had been “the author of his own tragic death” but added that it would not be right to record a verdict of suicide.

Recording a narrative verdict he said: “The deceased David Phillips, who was suffering from mental disorders, died while walking on a public road when he was hit by a moving car and suffered fatal injuries as a consequence. His actions were reckless as a consequence of his mental disorder. But I shall add he did not intend to bring his life to an end.”

Would you like to pay tribute to a lost loved one? Call reporter Peter Walsh on 01603 772436 or email peter.walsh@archant.co.uk

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