A pair of teen newlyweds killed in a high speed head-on crash while fleeing police were not wearing seat belts, an inquest heard.
Patrick McDonagh, 19, and 18-year-old pregnant wife Shauna were killed when he drove the wrong way down a busy dual carriageway in west London.
Their silver Renault Mégane hit a coach and burst into flames on the A40 Acton in February 2019.
Shauna was pregnant with their daughter, Sienna Marie, who was due to be born just four days later on Valentine’s Day, West London Coroner’s Court heard.
Both Patrick and Shauna were pronounced dead at the scene but a third passenger, Patrick’s cousin Michael McDonagh, survived and stumbled from the flaming wreck before being taken to hospital.
The young couple led police on an 89mph chase after being pulled over for driving through a red light.
The inquest heard officers saw items being thrown out of the window as Patrick drive through more red lights and weaved between other motorists in an attempt to get away.
Police believed the car carried a gang of samurai sword-wielding thugs after officers in a helicopter suspected the Renault could be linked to a armed robbery near Harrow, a jury was told.
However, an IOPC investigation revealed the couple were not linked to the crime.
The inquest heard how Patrick led police onto the A40, by which time two patrol cars and a helicopter were following him and a third was en route.
Officers lay in wait on slip roads armed with stingers – spikes used to deflate car tyres to bring pursuits to an end, but the Renault continued.
Eventually, officers were forced to abandon the chase after he drove into oncoming traffic at Gyspy Corner – making it too dangerous to continue.
Around 60 seconds later, officers on the ground received a radio transmission from the helicopter telling them there had been a “big impact”.
When emergency services arrived they found Patrick and Shauna dead in the flaming vehicle.
Michael stepped out of the car and was given first aid after officers saw that he wasn’t armed.
Today, the inquest heard from a specialist collision investigator, PC David Keen, who revealed the couple were not wearing belts – but Michael was.
Giving evidence, he said: “The Renault, in an attempt to evade being spoken to and or dealt with by police officers, has driven away from police – being aware of the requirement by them to stop.
“They have driven at speed above, and at times well above, the speed limit – putting other road users at some risk.
“They had taken an opportunity to drive onto the opposing carriageway at a moment when the lead pursuing police vehicle could not have followed them.
“He has continued accelerating, driving for about 0.7 of a mile – endangering the occupants of 57 oncoming vehicles and, as a result of this, has then been involved in a collision resulting in the loss of life of the occupants.
“It is the two of three occupants not wearing seatbelt who have received fatal injuries.
“At any point in the pursuit Mr McDonagh could have decided not to continue this manner of driving.”
He explained how Renault’s engine had broken away and landed on the road several metres in front of the car.
The jury were shown shocking helicopter-mounted thermal camera footage showing the horrifying impact.
The inquest heard evidence from a toxicologist who confirmed that, except for a small amount of paracetamol in Shauna’s system, neither Shauna nor Patrick had consumed drugs or alcohol.
A post-mortem revealed that Patrick died from “traumatic rupture of the aorta” while Shauna died from “head, chest, and abdominal injuries.”
The jury returned conclusions of “road traffic collision” for Shauna and “misadventure” for Patrick.
Closing the hearing, Coroner Chinyere Inyama said: “We will never know why Patrick drove how he did.”