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Last Updated: Wednesday, 3 March, 2004, 14:12 GMT
Under-21 United star over limit
Jimmy Davis
Jimmy Davis had been drinking in a nightclub
A promising young Manchester United player killed in a high-speed car crash was twice the legal drink-drive limit, an inquest has heard.

Oxfordshire coroner Nicholas Gardiner recorded a verdict of accidental death on 21-year-old Jimmy Davis.

The England Under-21 player was on loan at First Division Watford when he crashed into an articulated lorry on the M40 in Oxfordshire in August.

Witnesses said his car was travelling at up to 120mph in patchy fog.

The inquest was told Mr Davis, of Redditch, Worcestershire, had spent the night before his death drinking in a nightclub.

Died instantly

The fatal crash happened in the early hours of 9 August - the first day of the Nationwide League season.

The coroner said Mr Davis would have grabbed only a few hours sleep at most and said it would never be known why he had decided to drive to the match at such a time.

Mr Davis suffered massive head injuries and died instantly in the impact.

In a statement, Mr Davis' best-friend of 12 years, Timothy Wilkes, said he thought the player was disappointed he would be on the bench for the opening game because of injury.

The pair had a couple of beers at home before going to a nightclub where he said they drank about two more lagers and about three vodka drinks before getting a taxi home at about 0230 GMT.

Sir Alex Ferguson among other mourners at the funeral of Jimmy Davis
United manager Sir Alex Ferguson attended Mr Davis's funeral

Mr Davis then called his long-term girlfriend Melissa Coupe.

He had arranged to pick up Mr Wilkes at 0830 GMT and take him to Watford for the match but decided instead to drive immediately.

Pc Richard Medway told the hearing Mr Davis' family believed he had left early to avoid traffic and get a decent sleep at the air-conditioned hotel in Watford because it was a hot night.

Lorry driver Paul Caldicott said he saw Mr Davis' black BMW doing "break-neck speeds".

Krishna Barot, of Birmingham, said in a statement that the same car had cut his girlfriend's car up at speeds of up to 120mph and had weaved between lanes without indicating.

Paulo Dos Santos, a Portuguese lorry driver travelling south down the M40, said he felt an impact which made his truck shudder at about 0430 GMT.

He said: "I had no idea that the impact I felt was caused by a car. I couldn't do anything to avoid the accident."

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