Man who died in speedboat accident '˜to blame for fatal road crash'

A MAN who died in a speedboat accident was to blame for the deaths of an elderly couple in a horror road accident, an inquest has heard.
The fatal road crash occurred on the A73 at Newhouse. Picture: Google MapsThe fatal road crash occurred on the A73 at Newhouse. Picture: Google Maps
The fatal road crash occurred on the A73 at Newhouse. Picture: Google Maps

Giovanni Coppolaro, 85, and wife Maria, 83, died in July 2015 when Sandy Hamilton overtook a lorry at a bend and hit the car they were in on the A73 at Newhouse, Lanarkshire.

Their son Gennaro, 56, who was driving, was lucky to survive.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Hamilton, 35, was due to face trial charged with causing death by dangerous driving but he died along with his cousin Kevin McKinlay, 46, in a speedboat accident in May.

The pair, who were suspected puppy smugglers, launched the speedboat from Port Logan on the Galloway coast and their bodies were found in the water the following day.

The Coppolaros were visiting Scotland from their home in St Ives, Cambridgeshire, to attend a funeral when Hamilton, of Larkhall, hit the Jaguar car they were travelling in with his Volkswagen Golf.

Now an inquest into their deaths held in Huntingdon has heard that he was responsible for their deaths.

A report by the procurator fiscal submitted to the inquest said: “The standard of driving demonstrated by the accused, Sandy Hamilton, has fallen well below the standard expected of a competent driver.

“The accused appears to be in a hurry. He has carried out a dangerous overtaking manoeuvre. He crossed into the opposing lane and collided head on with the oncoming Jaguar.

“The accused must take full responsibility for causing this crash.”

The report added that Hamilton wouldn’t have had a sufficient view of the road ahead to be able to carry out the manoeuvre safely. The inquest heard witness accounts of the moments leading up to the fatal crash.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Following the inquest Gennaro Coppolaro said he was relieved that the facts about the accident had been heard.

He said: “It was very frustrating to me that the case was closed in Scotland because of Mr Hamilton’s death.

“As things stood he had pled not guilty to causing the deaths and that didn’t feel right to me.

“The inquest heard from all the eye witnesses who were driving near to him on that day. The trial would have been a foregone conclusion if he was still alive given all the evidence there was against him.

“It’s a big relief to have it officially acknowledged that his extremely dangerous driving caused the deaths of my parents.

“I am glad now that people can know exactly what happened. I am still suffering from it and I my parents did not survive and that’s something I have to live with.

“Although my parents were in their eighties they were still very active and they didn’t deserve what happened to them.”

Gennaro had to have shoulder surgery following the crash and still suffers from chronic back and neck pain.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

He added: “I would just like to thank all the people who stopped to help us after the crash.

“They gave my parents first aid while we waited for the ambulance to arrive and I really admire them for that.”

Mr Coppolaro died at Wishaw General Hospital the day after the crash on July, 27, 2015, and Mrs Coppolaro, 83, died of complications of multiple traumatic injuries on August 15.

A joint funeral was later held for the couple who grew up near Naples.

Senior coroner for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, David Heming, concluded that the couple died as a result of a road traffic collision, adding there was no way the family could have avoided the incident.

Prosecutors had rejected an offer from Hamilton offer to plead guilty to the lesser charge of causing death by careless driving.

It emerged after his death that both he and McKinlay were known to police in connection with the illegal trade of puppies from Ireland.

BBC footage was broadcast last year which showed Mr Hamilton being stopped in September 2015 on a ferry from Northern Ireland. A concealment of puppies was found in the boot of his car.

Related topics: