Much-loved Plymouth schoolboy died in tragic car crash

A popular 13-year-old boy died after being hit by a car in Plympton, an inquest heard. On the evening of Wednesday, April 3 last year, Charlie Nathan Seale had finished school and went out on his self-propelled micro scooter with friends around the Plympton area. The Ridgeway School pupil left his group of friends near the Co-op store sometime after 8pm and headed home, with his route taking him to Sandy Road, near to Tregenna Close.

He was then hit by a blue BMW 325, driven by Zac Taylor, at about 8.30pm and CPR was administered at the scene by a nurse, while paramedics arrived within seven to eight minutes of the 999 call. Sadly Charlie later died of his injuries at Derriford Hospital at 9.35pm. The inquest, held virtually by Michael Bird, assistant coroner for Plymouth, Torbay and South Devon, heard there was “no evidence that Charlie was riding his scooter irresponsibly at the time of the collision, nor that the driver of the vehicle, Mr Taylor, was driving in any way improperly”.

Charlie Seale

Originally, the inquest had been planned to take place on November 1, 2019, but was adjourned so Mr Taylor could attend as he had agreed to give evidence in person.

It was then planned for March 2020, but due to the lockdown, it was pushed back until today. Dr Georgina Selby, a consultant paediatrician at Derriford Hospital was on call on the evening of the collision when the trauma call was made. Tragically resuscitation efforts by the trauma team were unsuccessful and a formal cause of death was given as multiple injuries consistent with a road traffic collision.

The inquest heard evidence from PC Martin who attended the scene and arrived at 8.32pm. You can stay up-to-date on the top news near you with PlymouthLive’s FREE newsletters – find out more about our range of daily and weekly bulletins and sign up here or enter your email address at the top of the page. He told how “the driver involved in the collision” identified himself straightaway and he then took Mr Taylor away from the other people at the scene.

Mr Taylor, 30, was given a caution at the scene and later arrested on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving. In August last year, it was reported that Devon and Cornwall Police confirmed following “an investigation, no further action will be taken against” Mr Taylor. At the scene, Mr Taylor told PC Martin: “I was travelling from the Deep Lane junction.

I was about at the bus stop on my left and I saw a kid on my left, at my side window. “It was such a split second, it was so fast.”

Much-loved Plymouth schoolboy died in tragic car crashTributes laid at the crash scene where 13-year-old Charlie Seale died

Mr Taylor said he “stopped slightly further down” the road and “ran back” to the scene while on the phone to the ambulance service. It was later heard that the BMW had stopped 160 metres away from where the collision occurred.

Giving evidence virtually, Mr Taylor said: “I couldn’t stop immediately, as it happened I swerved and came back into my lane. As I looked into my mirror there was a car behind me so I couldn’t stop immediately. It wasn’t there when I glanced just before [the collision].”

The inquest also heard the car had no MOT in place and Mr Taylor had booked it in for the following morning after swapping his previous vehicle for the BMW “a few days” before the collision. Mr Taylor, who was a car salesman at a car dealership in Ivybridge and also bought and sold cars in his spare time, had a mechanic at his previous workplace check the BMW over. He was told it was “perfectly fine to drive” and was advised at some point to fix the “rear brake lines”.

Mr Taylor was covered on his private insurance, but was using trade plates on the vehicle at the time. Assistant coroner Mr Bird asked Mr Taylor how he was able to drive the vehicle if it had no MOT. “If a car is booked in for its MOT you are able to drive it,” he said.

“I also have the number plates, the trade plates, which covered the tax. It was booked in for the first thing the following morning. “I wouldn’t have driven it if I didn’t think it was [safe] or was advised it wasn’t.”

Read More
Related Articles
Read More
Related Articles

When asked if he believed if there was any opportunity to avoid the collision, Mr Taylor said he did not believe there was.

Mr Handy, a representative of Mr Taylor’s insurance company, said: “[Mr Taylor] wants to do what he can to help the family understand what happened and he is no way trying to hide behind the rules of self-incrimination.” The inquest also heard a report from PC Chapman, a forensic vehicle examiner for Devon and Cornwall Police, who examined the vehicle. He found the engine “had recently been changed” from its original 2.5 engine to a “six cylinder 2.8 engine”, which Mr Taylor said he had no knowledge of.

The inquest heard PC Chapman found the car had “corroded metal brake pipes” and a defective airbag system. PC Chapman explained these were all reasons to fail an MOT, which had previously expired on May 8, 2018. “The vehicle was not of a serviceable condition and had not been reasonably maintained,” he said.

However, Mr Chapman added that there were “no defects which could have caused or contributed to the road traffic collision”. PC Malcolm Passmore, a forensic collision investigator for Devon and Cornwall Police spent five hours investigating the collision site. He explained there “were a number of marks near to the bus stop on the northbound lane”, which were later attributed to Charlie’s scooter.

The inquest heard there was also a “number of items of debris from the BMW”, but there were “no tyre marks” attributable to the BMW, which meant that the speed of the vehicle could not be determined. Mr Taylor told the inquest he was driving at 30mph. When asked by Mr Bird how he was sure, he said it is “an extra thing when you’ve got those [trade] plates in the window, you make sure you are bang on speed limits and don’t exceed them”.

Read More
Related Articles
Read More
Related Articles

The inquest heard that Mr Taylor’s phone was seized immediately at the scene and there was no evidence of use at the time of the collision.

The police investigation found no witnesses to the collision, but one man witnessed the events before and after the incident. In a statement read out to the inquest, Mr Javadi explained he had left his home near to Sandy Road to go to the local shop. “I saw a young male with one foot on a small black scooter,” he said.

“He had a long-sleeved black top on with a hood, which was up at the time. He was wearing black trousers and appeared to be around 11 years old. “We both exchanged smiles with each other.”

Mr Javadi then went towards the bus stop and crossed the overbridge, which runs above Sandy Road. “I was walking down the slope on the opposite side and I then heard a very loud bang,” he said. “It sounded like a crash.

I noticed a yellow light a large piece of plastic in the road.” Mr Javadi said he saw a “dark saloon” type car “moving so slowly” down the road and it came to a stop.

Much-loved Plymouth schoolboy died in tragic car crashPrime skatepark gets a new outdoor mini-ramp to honour Charlie Seale

“I instantly called for an ambulance using 999 on my mobile phone,” he said. Mr Javadi found Charlie was not breathing and was asked to administer CPR but did not know how.

“She [the 999 operator] asked me to tilt his head back and pinch his nose and breathe into his mouth,” he said. “I did this. She asked me to give compressions.

A female then approached me and she started giving compressions.” Summarising the inquest, Mr Bird said: “[Charlie] was wearing a blacktop with a hood, which may have been up and black trousers. He may have been listening to music on his mobile phone.

“It was dark, the street lamps were lit. and it was dry, at that time. “The collision was unwitnessed. All that we can really say, as a matter of fact is that Charlie did not see Mr Taylor’s vehicle and then Mr Taylor did not see Charlie on his scooter.

“With the consequence that the collision occurred and Charlie suffered unsurvivable injuries in the collision.

Reporting inquests: This is why the media does it

As journalists, we have been asked if we “enjoy” writing about death. This question is often asked by the relative of someone who has been the subject of an inquest. They are often distressed, angry and deeply hurt.

They generally feel that we have pried into a secret part of their lives and that no-one else had the right to know about. And we understand that completely. The answer is never “yes, I enjoy writing about death”.

The answer is that none of us enjoy doing it, but there’s a very good reason why we do. The following quote comes from the Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO) guidance on inquests. This is the organisation set up to offer guidance on how we should operate as reporters.

“The fact of someone’s death is not private. Deaths affect communities as well as individuals and are a legitimate subject for reporting.” It seems quite cold – “the fact of someone’s death is not private” – but it strikes to the very core of why we write about it.

Who can attend an inquest and why are they held?

This is what you need to know.

The general public is entitled to attend all inquest hearings expect in exceptional circumstances and inquests must be held in buildings which are “accessible to the public without physical barrier so that any member of the public can drop in”. All hearings, therefore, are open to journalists, and “fair and accurate reporting of proceedings is encouraged”. Inquests are held when the cause of death is possibly violent or unnatural, or a person died in prison, police custody or another type of state detention

It is a public, fact-finding process to establish who died and where, when and how the death happened. It won’t establish who’s responsible for the death and most inquests are completed within six months of the death.

Why report on them?

First of all, it should be reiterated that reporting on inquests is one of the hardest things reporters have to do and we acknowledge that a number of people feel we should not do it. But there are three very important reasons why we do.

In reporting inquests, we are often drawing attention to circumstances which may lead to further deaths or injuries if no preventative action is taken. By highlighting the facts which have led to a tragedy, there is hope that someone reading the story might be in a position to prevent a further tragedy occurring in the future; recognising the early signs of spiral which could lead to someone taking their own life, realising how little alcohol consumption it can take to cause a fatal crash, or addressing a health and safety need to prevent an accident in the workplace and so on. Secondly, as is stated in the guidance for press issued by IPSO, there is a public interest in the reporting of inquests, which are public events in any case.

In reporting an inquest, a journalist may clear up any rumours or suspicion about the death. And thirdly, the principle of open justice applies in coroners’ courts and it is our duty to ensure that hearings are a matter of public record. Our reports, as a result, are often an impersonal look at the facts of the case and we appreciate that this can be distressing for families.

Much-loved Plymouth schoolboy died in tragic car crash Where possible, we will make an approach to relatives attending the hearing and it is job of the coroner’s office to notify relatives that the media may be present and reporting on the findings. Often, families do not wish to speak to us and we will absolutely respect that.

When they do, it enables us to write a more personal account in our stories. But we are not able to agree to the requests we receive not to publish a story at all for the reasons stated above, however harsh that may seem. We will not sensationalise.

We will not be gratuitous. We will accurately report on the evidence given at the hearing and the findings to educate, clear up any doubt and to maintain the principle of open justice. We understand that this will not satisfy everyone.

We understand that people will continue to feel that we are intruding on their personal grief and that has never been our intention. We do not enjoy reporting on what are often very personal tragedies but it is important that we continue to publish these stories and it is my earnest hope that doing so lessens the chance of similar tragedies occurring in the future.

What you can do?

It is beneficial for people to know that we attend almost every inquest in Plymouth and, when we do, a story will appear. We understand that coroners in Plymouth are routinely letting people know that this is the case and that members of the press may be present.

When approaching families for comment at an inquest, our journalists must do so with appropriate regard for the fact that inquests may be extremely distressing to the bereaved. They must cease questioning, pursuing or photographing members of the public if asked to do so by that person or their representative. We must never speculate and stick to the facts of the case as presented at the hearing.

Much-loved Plymouth schoolboy died in tragic car crash IPSO makes it clear that journalists should take particular care when reporting on suicide, to ensure that they do not provide excessive detail of the method used, which might result in someone trying to copy to method. If you have concerns about the accuracy of reporting an inquest, wish to add a personal tribute or request amendments, you can directly contact the journalist who posted the story on Plymouth Live by clicking on their byline, emailing news@plymouthherald.co.uk or phoning 01752 293122.

Should you wish to take matters further, the IPSO helpline is open from 9am to 5.30pm on 0300 123 22 20 or you can email inquiries@ipso.co.uk. “That Charlie should lose his life in this way at such a young age is nothing short of a tragedy and my heart goes out to Charlie’s family, his friends and all those who have been touched by the loss of Charlie from their lives. “We have not been able to establish with certainty exactly what happened.

The harsh reality though is that a collision occurred between a car on the road and a boy on a push scooter. And as a result, a young life was lost. “And I hope that anyone, whether that’s a parent, a young person or anyone who hears these side events take something away, which makes it less likely that another life will be lost.”

Mr Bird recorded the conclusion as an accident. He thanked Mr Taylor for “coming along and answering the questions that were put to you” and gave his “deepest sympathies” to the loved ones of Charlie.

Read More
Related Articles
Read More
Related Articles

Family’s heartbreaking tribute

Written and floral tributes appeared at the scene days after the tragedy, but Charlie’s family also put into their own words just what he means to them and how much they love him. They also described how he was popular and fun and loved spending time with his family, including Dot the dog.

They revealed how Charlie was a skilful goalkeeper for Ivybridge’s Manstow FC, winning a clutch of trophies, and a talented dancer at his school, Plympton Academy. He was part of the Boys Can Dance company which has worked with professional dancers, watched BalletBoyz on tour, and taken part in performances. Charlie also had a sweet tooth, particularly for chocolate milkshakes and Oreo biscuits.

Poignantly, they also spoke of his “passion” for his micro-scooter. The entire tribute statement from Charlie’s family reads: “Charlie was a happy and energetic 13-year-old boy. “He was very popular within his community and at Plympton Academy where he was a pupil.

“Charlie had a passion for his scooter and also enjoyed Boys Can Dance sessions at his school. “He loved to spend time with his family, especially going for walks with the whole family including Dot the dog. “Charlie used to play football for Manstow Football Club, in Ivybridge, where he was goalkeeper, having already collected many trophies.

“Charlie had a passion for chocolate milkshakes and Oreo biscuits!!

“His family will all miss him and will love and remember him forever.”

You may also like...