Teenage burglar died in crash as he fled in stolen car

Josh Blade
Josh Blade

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TEENAGER Josh Blade died after losing control of a stolen car in a panic, an inquest heard.

The 19-year-old sped off from a residential street in a black Vauxhall Astra after stealing the keys from a home he broke into Gosport.

Portsmouth Coroner’s Court heard Josh, of Griffin Walk, Rowner, went to a party the night before and had drink and drugs in his blood.

Michelle Usher, of Magennis Close, Gosport, confronted Josh outside her home and went inside to call police.

‘Five minutes later I heard an almighty bang,’ she said.

‘I ran out again, I saw a young man in my car, clearly he’d reversed into the back of a tree.

‘He then went and hit my neighbour’s car and reversed back a bit and went back into a tree again.

‘He was driving it very manically. He had no control over the car whatsoever.

‘He flew out of the car park, mounted the kerb and then literally span off.’

She told Josh’s mother Margaret Blade that she bears no ill will to her son.

Josh sped from the small car park into Carless Close before turning into Grange Road, swerving between the two pedestrian barriers and crashing.

Other witnesses said they heard the screech of tyres as the car shot off on to the main road.

PC Michaela Mehighan, a collision investigator, said she could not tell the speed of the car but said it would have been travelling faster than the limit.

She said: ‘The car exited at speed into Carless Close, mounted the kerb before turning into Grange Road. The vehicle continued across the grass verge sliding sideways and collided with a large metal fence post.

‘The tyre marks were consistent with the driver having lost complete control of the vehicle and sliding sideways.

‘The driver’s door had collided with the large fence post.’

She added the wheels were in such a position that the driver could not have recovered control of the car.

Witnesses who rushed to the car at first started looking for the driver as the force of the crash had forced Josh into the passenger side.

He suffered a head injury and was unconscious when paramedics reached him after the crash on May 6 at 7am last year.

Josh died later the same day at Queen Alexandra Hospital in Cosham.

The inquest heard he had no seat belt on, had an expired provisional licence and had taken no driving lessons.

Josh’s mother said he had been in arguments with friends at a party the night before and that would have upset him.

Coroner David Horsley recorded a verdict of accidental death at the inquest held at Portsmouth Guildhall.

He said Josh’s blood was found to have recreational levels of mephedrone and MDMA, along with being 2.18 times the drink-drive limit.

Josh’s urine was found to contain recreational levels of amphetamine.

Mr Horsley said: ‘He had a couple of arguments that upset him greatly. Sadly he’s done a very silly thing that morning.

‘I’m putting it down to a state if anxiety that he was in.

‘He’s taken this car, got into it trying to reverse it out, hit a tree.

‘The owner has come out and chased him and he’s quite clearly panicked. It’s a tragic waste of a young life.’

Mother’s tributes to son – ‘he was trying to sort his life out’

JOSH Blade’s mother has paid tribute to her son and told of his last night at home.

Speaking after the inquest, his mother Margaret Blade, 52, of Gosport, said: ‘We’re all devastated by our loss.

‘He was a good boy. He was working to turn his life around.

‘The police should be looking for the drug dealers.’

She added she wished her son had more support after serving time in prison.

He had admitted burglary and car theft at Reading Crown Court in 2012.

Mrs Blade told the inquest that Josh had been out to a party the night before he died and that she had heard from him.

She said: ‘He’d just got a job and was excited, he was trying to sort himself out, then he got a text saying “party”.’

I spoke to him about half one or 12. Later on I found out he’d had an argument.

‘I drove past the accident and didn’t think it was him because he didn’t drive.

‘He didn’t do drugs, I was shocked. He drank a bit but he didn’t do drugs.

‘He was quite an emotional boy when he was sober. He just wanted to be liked, he hated falling out with people.’

‘I didn’t even know he could drive.’