Father calls for prosecution after son’s death

A FATHER whose son died in Spain after being left to sleep in a baking hot car said he wanted the Crown Prosecution Service to review an earlier decision not to prosecute anyone. Andrew Lewin, 18, suffered a massive heat stroke as temperatures hit a swelt

A FATHER whose son died in Spain after being left to sleep in a baking hot car said he wanted the Crown Prosecution Service to review an earlier decision not to prosecute anyone.

Andrew Lewin, 18, suffered a massive heat stroke as temperatures hit a sweltering 50 degrees centigrade (122f) inside the small Peugeot 106.

The windows were closed and he was in the car for about four and a half hours.

Ten years after his death an inquest jury decided that talented sportsman Andrew died from heat stroke, exacerbated by alcohol intoxication after he had been left in the car. They said they could not be sure it had been parked in the shade.

In its findings the jury said: "If he had not remained in the car at such high temperatures he would have not died."

After the narrative verdict at hearing at Hatfield Coroner's Court, coroner Edward Thomas said he would be writing to the Department of Health regarding the findings of the jury which he hoped could be incorporated into travel advice for people going abroad.

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He said the message of just how hot vehicles can become when left in the sun needed to be reinforced because of the dangers they presented to anyone left inside.

"We know about children, and pets but adults are just as vulnerable, if they are unable to get in or out themselves."

During the three day inquest the jury heard how Andrew of Rushden, near Buntingford, had spent the early hours of July 29, 1997 visiting bars and clubs in the Marbella.

When he finally left a club near Estepona at about 8.15am he had to be helped outside and into the small Peugeot 106 his friend was driving.

The court heard that on arrival back at the El Madronel tennis club Andrew's friend, Courtney Kayne, was unable to rouse him, and he went to bed leaving Andrew in the car at about 8.40am.

As the sun the rose it was shaping up to be one of the hottest days of the month.

At 7am temperatures had already reached 21 degrees centigrade. By 1pm the temperature outside the car was in excess of 30 degree centigrade.

Consultant engineer Raymond Morrisey, a Health and Safety accident investigator, told the court the soaring temperatures outside would have created a "greenhouse" effect in the vehicle.

By midday he said the temperatures inside the vehicle would have been around 45 to 50 degrees centigrade.

The normal body temperature is 37 degrees and the court heard as Andrew lay sleeping his body heat would have started to rise rapidly.

Pathologist Dr Nat Carey said anything over 40 degrees was dangerous for the human body.

With temperatures hitting between 45 and 50 degrees C he said Andrew would have suffered multiple organ failure.

Dr Carey gave the cause of death as heat stroke exacerbated by acute alcohol intoxication.

The inquest heard that blood tests showed Andrew to be two and a half times over the legal driving limit.

Dr Carey the effects of the alcohol could have meant his ability to deal with a dangerous situation was impaired.

Toxicologist Prof Alexander Forrest said the amount of alcohol Andrew had consume that night would not have been enough to have caused his death on its own.

But he said the effects of the drink on him had made him "vulnerable".

The reason the inquest took so long to be held was that in addition to Spanish police conducting an investigation, Herts police also carried out detailed inquiries of their own.

Twice the case papers were referred to the Crown Prosecution Service, which decided not to prosecute anyone. There was also a judicial review.

The driver of the car Mr Kayne did not attend the inquest to give evidence. Instead, the jury heard a statement he gave to Spanish police in which he claimed his friend had downed 20 tequilas during the night.

That evidence was challenged by Andrew's family during the inquest.

A till roll from the club on the day he died showed that just 11 tequilas had been sold the whole time it was open. The most Andrew could have had while there was two.

His blood alcohol reading also showed he had drunk the equivalent of three to five pints.

After the hearing, Andrew's father Patrick Lewin said: "I would certainly now want to ask the CPS to review the case again based on new evidence that has come out of the inquest.

"That is the fact that we now know his alcohol level and we now know he was alive when he was put in the car at the club to be driven back to his accommodation.

"Before the CPS was always claiming it was not known when Andrew had died.

"Well now we know he died when he was in the car after he had been left on his own.

"That is because Dr Carey said he was drenched in sweat when his body was found."

Mr Lewin said: "I just think there should be an accounting for this tragedy. I don't want there to be a great penalty, but for someone to face Mr Kayne with the responsibility for what he did.

"He has never spoken to me or given me an explanation.

"For 10 years he has been saying Andrew drank himself to death, which was untrue and was extremely hurtful to my family.