Halloween party tragedy as Hemel Hempstead teen dies in Berkhamsted sports centre car park

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A Hemel Hempstead teen died from accidental carbon monoxide poisoning when he decided to sleep in his car following a Halloween party, an inquest heard this morning.

Karl Daniel Phillips of Longlands parked his light blue Peugeot 206 in Berkhamsted’s Sportspace car park in Douglas Gardens, after the gathering at a friend’s in the town.

It is thought the 19-year-old wanted to sleep off the alcohol he had drunk before driving back to his Hemel Hempstead home, and had turned the heating on to keep himself warm in the early hours of November 1.

It was not until around 6am that morning that he was discovered by regular car park user Mark Goodman, who said the vehicle was making a lot of noise, and used a wheel brace to smash a window when the young man failed to respond to him.

Mr Goodman alerted police and paramedics who pronounced Mr Phillips dead at the scene. Scene of crime officers described his death as non-suspicious as there were no signs of any struggle.

A toxicology report showed Mr Phillips to have 89 milligrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood and 186 in the same amount of urine – suggesting he was over the legal drink-drive limit but had had his last drink a number of hours before his death. He had been described by friends at the Halloween celebration as being ‘quite drunk’.

The teen also had a fatal level of carbon monoxide poisoning at 67.5 per cent.

It is believed a fault in his car’s exhaust caused noxious fumes to enter the heating system, which would have caused him to die while he slept.

A woman who was driving her friends home at around 2.50am is thought to have been the last person to see Mr Phillips. Witness Hannah Suckling said she noticed the car driving into the sports centre car park and that the lights appeared to be faulty.

Coroner Edward Thomas said: “Karl decided to park his car and rest for the night, probably because he was over the limit. He died an accidental death, as this was an unintentional consequence of what happened. It is dangerous to sleep in a car, especially with the engine running.

“He would not have known what was happening. It is tragic, and I express my deepest sympathies to his family.”