INJURIES sustained in a crash caused by a drink driver made a Nelson man more susceptible to the infection which eventually killed him, an inquest was told.

The hearing at Blackburn Coroner’s Court heard how Philip Tonks, 55, died of bronchial pneumonia at Royal Blackburn Hospital on January 23.

Dr Mohammed Aslam, who carried out the post mortem examination, told the hearing that ‘severe’ brain injuries sustained in the collision in 2004 had not only left him paralysed, but also made him more suscepitble to lung infections like the one that killed him.

He also told the court that there was evidence Mr Tonks had suffered a number of other lung infections in the past.

Recording a verdict of accidental death, Coroner Michael Singleton said the infection would probably not have caused Mr Tonks’s death had he not been involved in the accident five years previous.

The hearing heard how Mr Tonks had been involved in a road traffic collision on the A590 Dalton bypass, Barrow-in-Furness, on November 13, 2004.

Giving evidence PC Anthony Foy, of Cumbria Police, said he had investigated the incident at the time.

He told the court that Mr Tonks had been a passenger in a seven-and-a-half ton Leyland DAF tipper wagon when it broke down while travelling along the East-bound carriageway towards the M6.

The lorry was parked on a three-laned section of the A590 on the brow of a hill, about 200 yards west of the roundabout for the A595, he said.

He said a large number of motorists passed the broken down wagon by going around it and that Mr Tonks had got out to re-fuel the vehicle.

But William Dickinson, of Dalton, crashed into the lorry in his Ford Mondeo, causing a large panel to fall on the head of Mr Tonks.

Following the crash Mr Tonks spent more than six months in hospital before moving to St Andrew’s House, a nursing home for the physically disabled, in Rainhall Road, Barnoldswick, where he lived up to his death.

Dickinson was found to be more than one-and-a-half times the legal drink driving limit when tested by police.

He was disqualified from driving and ordered to pay a fine when he appeared before magistrates.

Mr Singleton recorded a verdict of accidental death.