Inquest into death of baritone Robert Poulton and Jessica Christie-Sturges - heartbroken teen drifted into his lane after breaking up with boyfriend (From The Argus)
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Inquest into death of baritone Robert Poulton and Jessica Christie-Sturges - heartbroken teen drifted into his lane after breaking up with boyfriend
A teenager died in a car crash as she drove away from her boyfriend's home having been dumped hours before, an inquest heard.
Jessica Christie-Sturges accidentally steered into the path of an internationally-acclaimed opera singer, killing them both, .
The inquest into the death of the heartbroken 19-year-old heard how her Ford was in the wrong lane when it smashed head-on into 55-year-old Robert Poulton’s Fiat on October 30 last year.
Sales assistant Jessica, of Heathfield, died of multiple injuries on the B2102 in Cross-in-Hand.
Mr Poulton – who had sung with the English National Opera and was a regular soloist at Glyndebourne – died hours later in the Royal Sussex County Hospital, having suffered a respiratory arrest.
Jessica never received a final text message from her ex-boyfriend, Alex Bland, sent at 8.56pm – about ten minutes after the crash occurred – which read ‘I’m sorry Jess. Take care of yourself’.
Yesterday, Mr Bland told an inquest in Eastbourne that he received a call shortly after 9pm from Jessica’s mother, Kimberley, which said she was dead.
“I was in shock, I couldn’t believe it”.
Jessica’s father – a Metropolitan Police officer based in Croydon – and mother were already at the scene.
Mr Bland said Jessica left his home in Cross-in-Hand at about 8.30pm on the night of the crash, and had agreed to end their nine-month relationship.
He said: “We discussed how it [our relationship] did not work.
“She [Jessica] was lovely to be around and very genuine but at times I felt hard to trust.”
He added that she left his home at about 7pm for about ten minutes before returning.
At this stage, he described her as “sobbing” but then she subsequently calmed down before leaving for a final time.
Father-of-two Mr Poulton, who was born in Brighton, was heading home to Heathfield when his car smashed into Jessica’s.
PC Paul Banks, forensic collision investigator, said he believed both cars were travelling at about 60mph.
“Miss Christie-Sturges was almost entirely on the wrong side of the road,”he said, adding that it was likely she “drifted across” to the other side, leaving Mr Poulton no time to respond.
Summing up, assistant coroner for East Sussex Chris Wilkinson said that having been “distressed by her breakup”, Jessica might have suffered a “momentary lapse in concentration”.
Afterwards Philippa Poulton, Mr Poulton’s widow, said: “Rob was wonderful.
“He was a loving father and a great man. I still listen to his music. We had 30 years together. A love like that doesn’t die. It is an enduring love.”
A verdict of accidental death was recorded.
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