A young man killed when his car hit a tree was driving at speeds over 120mph in the moments before the impact.

PC Steve Dessouki-Harman, forensic collision investigator, was called to the scene of the crash on the A29.

He told an inquest into 20-year-old Finlay Pitt's death: "This was a high speed, high energy collision." 

PC Dessouki-Harman said the engine and gearbox of Finlay's blue Hyundai i30n were “ripped out” in the crash, which happened at Adversane, near Pulborough, at around 9.30pm on February 16 last year. 

The speed limit there is 60mph.

Data from a GPS tracker in the car showed Finlay was travelling at more than 120mph in the moments leading up to it.

He was driving home to West Chiltington Lane in Broadford Bridge, near Horsham, from rugby training in Pulborough when he smashed into the tree.

Just minutes before he had called his girlfriend to tell her he was on the way home.

In a statement, read to the court by coroner’s officer Chris Nicola, Finlay's parents David and Morag Pitt said: “Finlay was a much-loved eldest son and big brother to Lewis and Esther and soulmate to his girlfriend Zoe.

“He had just completed a Mercedes HGV apprenticeship and worked hard for all he achieved."

Finlay had just graduated as an apprentice with distinction.

His parents said: “Finlay loved his job. He was a really kind and caring person and has left a legacy for people to help.

“He contributed monthly to Kent Sussex and Surrey Air Ambulance and since this we have gone on to raise thousands for the charity in his memory.”

The Argus: Finlay Pitt's family described him as 'really kind and caring'Finlay Pitt's family described him as 'really kind and caring' (Image: Sussex Police)

The court heard how a nearby resident heard a “massive smash” when the crash happened near her home.

Abigail Bird said: “I heard a big loud bang. It was eerily silent afterwards.”

A pathology report, read at the inquest held at Woodvale Coroner’s Court in Brighton, said the young mechanic had died “due to multiple traumatic injuries”. No drugs or alcohol were found in his system.

The Argus: Police closed the road after the crash to investigatePolice closed the road after the crash to investigate (Image: Sussex News and Pictures)

“The CCTV footage we see from a nearby garage and the catastrophic damage to the vehicle corroborate high speed,” PC Dessouki-Harman told the hearing.

“There was a five degree steering input and some breaking before he crashed into the first tree.

“We are unable to determine if he was distracted at the time. It is possible that the presence of an animal has caused him to react.

“Tragically this incident resulted in Finlay’s untimely death.”

Alicia Keen, assistant coroner for West Sussex, Brighton and Hove, concluded the inquest, held on Tuesday.

She said: “While driving north on the A29 towards Billingshurst, Finlay lost control of his vehicle, resulting in a high-speed impact with trees on the eastern side.

“As a result of that, he died at the scene.

“All I can do is extend my condolences to the family and thank you so much for your input.”