Ely man’s petition to stop ‘cough syncope’ being used as an excuse following crash which killed his dad

PUBLISHED: 17:48 29 January 2018 | UPDATED: 18:19 29 January 2018

Harry Beeton has launched a petition against a rare cough syndrome being used as an excuse for collisions. Seen here with his dad Phil.

Harry Beeton has launched a petition against a rare cough syndrome being used as an excuse for collisions. Seen here with his dad Phil.


An Ely man has so far collected 2,440 signatures on a petition to stop drivers using a little known medical condition as an excuse after his dad died in a crash two years ago.

Phillip BeetonPhillip Beeton

Harry Beeton‘s dad Phil, of Southery, died when his blue Citroen Relay van was in collision with a 20 tonne truck.

The lorry driver involved said he suffered a coughing fit which is why he lost control of his vehicle.

In the passenger seat of the van was Harry’s cousin Jack, 19, who has spent the last two years of his life in and out of hospital and as a result of the crash is “made of metal”.

Harry, 21, a railway worker, said: “The lorry driver claimed he experienced cough syncope which is a coughing fit resulting in loss of consciousness.

“This can commonly occur in people with severe chronic obstructive lung disease and asthma. The lorry driver had a full medical and was in generally good health, not intoxicated and was driving within the 50mph speed limit.

“Cough syncope can’t be proved and therefore was based on the “probability” that he lost consciousness by three different medical experts.

“This leaves a massive loophole in the law.

“There are many things that don’t add up and because there wasn’t enough evidence, the Crown Prosecution Service declined taking it to court.

“The petition won’t bring back my dad or change the decision in his case but by signing this petition you could help raise awareness to the Government and stop this happening to other families in the future.”

Phil, 50, worked as a carpenter in the family business, B&B Carpentry along with his brother, David and son Jack.

Harry said: “Jack still goes to work as a carpenter but it is hard for him. Some days he hobbles so my uncle tries to make sure Jack has jobs he can cope with.

“It has affected all of us in so many ways. We just want to make sure nobody else goes through this and uses this loophole. It feels like we haven’t had closure.”

Phil was killed on the A10 near Chittering, on October 7, 2015.

He was driving home to celebrate his daughter’s 21st birthday with his nephew Jack in the passenger seat, who suffered life-changing injuries.

Phil’s younger brother David has criticised the CPS decision not to prosecute after an inquest found truck driver William Abbott didn’t apply his brakes before the crash.

The petition is on Change.org and is called “eliminate cough syncope as an explanation to road traffic collisions.”


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