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Sunday, 31 August 2014

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Daughter tells of grief at dad's death in road crash near Wigton

A daughter devastated by a second family tragedy has spoken of her grief over her father’s death.

Eric Coulson photo
Eric Coulson

Rachel Coulson has also revealed her frustration that a trial in which he was trying to clear his name of allegations cannot now reach a verdict.

Driving instructor Eric Coulson, 62, died last week, three years after his daughter, Verity Twentyman, took her own life.

Mr Coulson, of Wampool Place, Wigton, was standing trial accused of sexually assaulting two female driving pupils – charges he denied.

He attended Carlisle Crown Court on Wednesday last week but died the following morning when his car was in collision with a lorry on the A596 Wigton bypass.

Mr Coulson’s daughter, Rachel, said: “My dad had gone to court on the first day. He held his head up high and just kept saying he had done nothing wrong. He was clearly upset but he held it together well. He just wanted to clear his name.”

Rachel, 39, last spoke to her dad the night before the crash.

She said: “He said he didn’t think the trial had gone too badly. We chatted on the phone and he called me sweetheart.

“He said everything would be fine and he would see me the following day.”

On Thursday morning, Mr Coulson dropped off his grandson Oliver at Nelson Thomlinson School and then drove onto the Wigton bypass.

Rachel was at her dad’s home when she received news that there had been a crash.

She said: “My mum went out to look for him and when she came back she said she had some bad news. I saw the police standing behind her.”

Rachel’s sister Verity was 34 when she died in 2009. A coroner ruled that she had taken her own life. Verity’s two children, Jessica, 18, and Oliver, 13, lived with Mr Coulson and his wife Elaine.

Rachel said: “We lost our beloved Verity and my dad was the rock for our family. He put his own grief to one side to support us. He often sent me random texts saying he loved me. It took me two years to get over Verity’s death and this time I’m going to sort out some counselling. My mum is a strong person. She never doubted my dad – none of us did.”

Mr Coulson had been a driving instructor for 12 years, having previously worked as an HGV driver.

Rachel said: “He was a hard-working man all his life and when my sister and I were little he had worked two jobs so my mum could stay at home and care for us.

“He loved his job and took great pride in it. He sent all of his pupils congratulations when they had passed. He was as pleased with the last as he was with the first.

“He was a true gentleman. He was polite and was never crude or swore. He was a good man. He enjoyed photography and taking his dog Marley to agility classes. I feel privileged to have been brought up by him.”

In 2008, Mr Coulson was diagnosed with the early stages of throat cancer for which he was treated.

“He recovered well and threw himself back into his work,” said Rachel.

“He was still taking on new pupils all the time despite the allegations against him.”

She believes the case has highlighted the potential for allegations against driving instructors, adding that cameras should be fitted in their vehicles to give clarity for both teachers and pupils.

“The thought of another family having to go through this is heart breaking,” she said.

Oliver said: “After my mum died grandad bought me an amplifier. I felt I could let my grief out through my music.

“My grandad had 950 followers on Facebook and we have received so many kind messages of support. It really helps.

“We are all really sad but Marley the dog is really missing his dad. He just wants him back.”

The family says it has been comforted by the huge amount of sympathy cards and flowers it has received.

Rachel said: “We want to say thank you to the people of Wigton for all their kind words of support they have sent to us at this difficult time.”

Police are continuing to investigate the crash.

An inquest into his death was opened and adjourned on Monday. Mr Coulson’s funeral will be held on Tuesday at Carlisle Crematorium at 1.40pm.

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