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Monday, March 22, 1999 Published at 12:03 GMT


Millionaire crash victim faced drugs charge

A millionaire businessman facing trial on a drugs charge was one of three people killed when a 640,000 McLaren F1 sports car crashed into a tree.

Christopher Dawes, 39, died when the 212mph limited edition car went out of control near Great Dunmow in Essex.

The computer millionaire was arrested on Boxing Day after a drugs raid resulted in the first crack cocaine seizure in the Channel Islands.

Court appearance

He was due to appear in court later this year charged with possession of a Class A drug.

Police said the crash happened as the car was travelling towards Braintree on the A120 after a heavy downpour on Sunday afternoon. No other vehicles were involved.

The burgundy sports car was split in two by the force of the collision, and burst into flames.

It is understood that the identities of the victims, still to be officially confirmed by police, were only established using medical records.

Properties on Alderney

Mr Dawes owned a number of properties on Alderney, including the Chez Andre Hotel and the Devereux House Hotel.

His legal adviser Paul Elliott, speaking from the Chez Andre Hotel on Sunday night, said: "I can confirm that Mr Dawes is dead after a car crash earlier today.

"All his staff and contractors are obviously only just hearing the news and will not be saying anything during the grieving process."

Mr Dawes was held in a joint police and customs operation on December 26. His jet and helicopter, each worth 3m, were impounded and stripped.

Career began in Australia

After a court appearance on the neighbouring island of Guernsey he was released from custody on the Channel Islands' equivalent of bail. His bail conditions allowed him to visit the mainland.

Mr Dawes's career began as an amusement arcade mechanic in Australia, before he moved into the computer games industry.

He stated his first firm upgrading Macintosh computers while studying for an electronics engineering degree.

Loved the island

In 1989, after moving to London, he launched Micromuse which made him a fortune estimated at up to 100m after just nine years.

It operated in 50 countries, and its customers included telecom companies and the British and American Governments.

Last year, Mr Dawes resigned as chief executive and cashed in 24m of shares.

The Chez Andre Hotel's reception manager Amanda Bowler said: "He was a very, very nice chap, absolutely charming.

"He wanted to really improve the hotel and he obviously loved the island."

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