A YOUNG driver was travelling at an excessive speed and not wearing a seatbelt when his car hit a tree, killing him and a friend, an inquest heard.

A DRIVER was travelling at an excessive speed and not wearing a seatbelt when his car hit a tree, killing him and a friend, an inquest heard.

Darryl Townsend, 20, was taking three team-mates home after a football match when his car left the road and spun into a tree, throwing him through the rear windscreen.

Student Harry Williams, 17, sitting behind the driver's seat, also died after suffering serious head injuries in the collision in Rogues Lane, Elsworth, on December 11 last year.

Coroner Dr Sam Bass recorded a narrative verdict that Mr Townsend was killed while driving unrestrained and at excessive speed. He recorded that Mr Williams was killed unlawfully.

Dr Bass said: "If he [Mr Townsend] had been wearing a seatbelt it is likely he would have remained in the front seat and there's a possibility that Harry might have survived the accident."

More than 30 family members and friends of the pair, both of Stirling Road, St Ives, attended the inquest in Huntingdon on Thursday last week.

The inquest heard that the four young men in the car had been returning to St Ives from Elsworth after their football team's final match of the year.

Adam Kay, the front-seat passenger in the car and a friend of the two young men, said Mr Townsend had been "in one of his quicker moods" on the day of the accident, but that he had not been concerned.

Mr Kay said: "Darryl was habitually not wearing his seatbelt. We would always be going on at him to put it on."

After leaving The Poacher pub in Elsworth, Mr Townsend, who had not drunk any alcohol, overtook two cars on Rogues Lane and began to pull away from them at about 70mph.

David Triggs, the driver of one of the other cars and the manager of the football team, said Mr Townsend took "the racing line" through a right-hand bend at the bottom of the hill and lost control of the car.

"I saw the back end go out," said Mr Triggs. "I remember seeing the headlights go from side to side."

Mr Triggs and another driver stopped at the scene and called the emergency services.

Pc Jason Porter, reading a statement for investigating officer Pc Francis Crawford, said the bend was clearly marked with reflective posts.

He said the impact of colliding with the tree pushed Mr Townsend back into his seat, which collapsed, and then out through the rear windscreen.

Dr Bass concluded: "Darryl was driving a little bit faster and was in one of his quicker moods.

"He was killed while driving unrestrained and while at excessive speed."

Delivering his verdict on Mr Williams, Dr Bass said: "It seems likely that he was hit by Darryl as he passed through the car."

He added: "When anybody dies in a car accident it is a shock to all the families. It is important to know that the law is there to help us to drive appropriately and safely.

"Two lives have been needlessly destroyed by what happened in that accident on that day."

Sgt Gareth Williams, the senior investigating officer, said: "Putting on your seatbelt should be part of your routine before even starting your vehicle, and drivers should be responsible for ensuring all passengers wear their seatbelts."