George Sawyer inquest: Talented Yorkshire rugby player, 18, died when he was hit by a BMW on A64 after agricultural college's point to point races

A talented teenage rugby player died after being hit by a BMW on the A64 while trying to return to his student accommodation after a night at a pub.

George Edward Sawyer, 18, had been drinking with friends from Askham Bryan College at The Three Hares in Bilbrough, near York, after the agricultural college had hosted a point to point meeting on its racecourse last March.

An inquest at North Yorkshire Coroner’s Court heard that George, from Farnley Tyas near Huddersfield, was nearly three times the drink drive limit when he tried to cross the A64 eastbound while on his way back to the campus.

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The agriculture student was killed instantly when he was hit at around 70mph by businessman Paul Bailey-Hague’s BMW M3 in the early hours of the morning.

George SawyerGeorge Sawyer
George Sawyer

Mr Bailey-Hague, who had been travelling back to York from Leeds Bradford Airport, was never charged in relation to George’s death after a police investigation concluded he had not had enough time to react to the pedestrian’s presence in the road.

Askham Bryan equine student Ellie Chapman, who had ridden in the point to point, said students would often walk from the college to The Three Hares to socialise, and after she had arrived, one of her friends left to collect George, who then joined their group. It was the pub’s last night of trading and she described the atmosphere as a ‘free for all’. She left before the 12pm curfew that the college’s students are subject to.

A friend and flatmate of George received a call from him at around 12.30pm while he was in bed, asking for a lift back to the campus, but the friend was only 17 at the time and declined to leave their accommodation as he was under an earlier curfew of 11pm.

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George told the friend that he could ‘see the gates’ to Askham Bryan and was nearly home, and sounded normal.

Mr Bailey-Hague gave evidence to the hearing and said that he had his dipped headlights on and was travelling in the inside lane at 70mph when his windscreen suddenly exploded. He had not seen George before the impact .

North Yorkshire Police forensic collision investigator Paul Harris confirmed that the A64 had a 70mph limit, a footpath alongside it and that no defects were found to either the road or Mr Bailey-Hague’s car. Traffic was light at the time.

ANPR cameras had captured the BMW reaching average speeds of 79mph on the stretch from Bramham Interchange to the crash site, and a download of the car’s data produced an average speed of 73mph. There were no marks on the road that enabled Traffic Constable Harris to calculate an exact speed.

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Mr Bailey-Hague tested negative for drugs and alcohol. TC Harris stated that there would have been ‘little contrast’ between George and his surroundings due to the darkness.

He added that even if the driver had been using full beam headlights, he would have been unlikely to have seen George in time to stop.

TC Harris concluded: “Paul Bailey-Hague was travelling at around the speed limit. George was very intoxicated and strayed into the carriageway. He was an unexpected presence and the driver had no time to avoid the collision.”

George was a former pupil of Queen Elizabeth’s Grammar School in Wakefield and had played for Huddersfield RUFC since the age of six. At the time of his death, he was part of the club’s academy squad. He was in the second year of his course at Askham Bryan and on an arable farming pathway. He left father Phil, mother Sarah and sister Lucy.

Assistant coroner Jonathan Leach recorded a conclusion of death in a road traffic collision.

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