A woman was killed while working in Qatar by an unlicensed motorbike rider who was racing his friend, an inquest has heard.
Kerry Rome, 33, from Thurlby, died instantly when she was hit by a high-powered Suzuki bike on her way home from a night out on April 20, 2012. She was crossing a road in Doha, where she was working, but was in a parking lane when she was hit.
The 21-year-old motorbike rider did not have a driving licence and was convicted of killing Kerry in a Qatari court in 2012.
Kerry’s family attended an inquest into her death at Stamford Town Hall today (Tuesday). They hoped to hear coroner Prof Robert Forrest record a verdict of unlawful death but the coroner recorded a verdict of death caused as a result of a road traffic collision.
Giving evidence, Kerry’s mother Margaret Dench described the moment she found out about her daughter’s death as “the worst phone call of my life”.
She added: “My lovely daughter Kerry would be here today if that reckless, dangerous motorcyclist had not been racing with a friend at 2am in the morning.”
The inquest heard a toxicology report carried out in Qatar found 296mg of alcohol per 100ml of Kerry’s blood. This would work out as 14.4 British units in Kerry’s system. The inquest heard the average bottle of wine is 10 units.
But Mrs Dench said she did not believe the figures in the report and pointed out the difficulties she had with Qatari authorities. She added: “There was no respect shown to us.”
The inquest heard statements from three of Kerry’s colleagues at Al Jazeera English language television network, where she worked as a technical director, who were with her at a hotel club on the night she died. All three said she did not appear drunk.
Oliver Walker said Kerry had left work at 10pm and gone home to get changed before getting in to the club at about 11.30pm. He said: “We had a few drinks but nothing major, as we were dancing close to the stage. It was not like we were pounding shots at the bar.” Marcus McNulty said Kerry had not appeared drunk while she was at the club, adding: “At no stage did I see her unable to walk, talk or function normally.”
And Jade Kent, who left with Kerry in a taxi at about 1.30am, said: “From my perspective she did not seem intoxicated at all.” Jade said she and Kerry had asked the taxi driver to stop on the wrong side of the road to the Al Jazi Gardens complex where she was staying. But Jade said this was because the taxi driver’s English was poor and there was a complex one-way system to get to the right side of the road.
Jade added: “Had Kerry seemed intoxicated I would not have decided to stop on the other side of the road to her residence.”
Prof Forrest read a post mortem report by Dr Elizabeth Astall, who examined Kerry’s body once it was returned to the UK. Dr Astall discovered multiple injuries including breaks, fractures and lacerations. She gave the cause of death as multiple traumatic injuries. This was confirmed by Dr Michael Biggs, of the East Midlands Forensic Pathology Unit, who was asked by the coroner to take another look at Dr Astall’s report.
Dr Biggs said Kerry’s injuries were consistent with a collision with a motorbike but it was difficult to say how fast the bike had been going.
He added: “I haven’t found any pathological evidence of a very high speed crash but that doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.”
Dr Biggs also said it was quite possible the reported blood alcohol levels were accurate, adding: “It is entirely possible for someone to not be drinking to excess and have enough alcohol in their body to end up with a post mortem calculation such as this.”
But he said it was better to rely on the eyewitness reports of Kerry’s colleagues.
Prof Forrest explained to Kerry’s family, which included her mother and stepfather Margaret and Mike Dench, and her father Roy Rome, of Peterborough, that he did not have enough evidence to record a verdict of unlawful killing. But he said a Qatari judge had “quite rightly” described the motorcyclist’s speed as “excessive.”
He added: “It had appeared that the motorcyclist was undertaking one of his companions when the collision took place.”
Kerry started working for the network in 2008 and lived in Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia up until her move to Doha. Kerry’s widower Mark Harris, who also gave evidence at the inquest, paid tribute to his late wife, who he married in Las Vegas in 2011.
Mr Harris, originally from Market Deeping but now living in Dubai, said: “Kerry was an amazing person. She was kind, generous, there to help and never had a bad word to say about anyone. We were career-oriented adults who relocated abroad to make a good life and good careers for ourselves,” he added. “This was all taken away by a 21-year-old man who was out racing a motorbike with his friends.”