Sleep disorder leads to man's death

A coroner has vowed to make the authorities more aware of a sleeping disorder after the condition caused a fatal accident.

Merseyside Coroner Christopher Sumner announced his intention to lobby the Government while passing a verdict of accidental death in the inquest of Toby Tweddell.

Mr Tweddell, 25, from Sale, Greater Manchester, was killed when the driver of an articulated lorry fell asleep at the wheel and ploughed into a line of stationary traffic on the M62 motorway.

The lorry driver, Colin Wrighton, had been suffering from undiagnosed obstructive sleep apnoea.

He complained to his doctor about feeling tired four months before the accident, and tests were run for diabetes, which came back negative.

It was not until after the crash that obstructive sleep apnoea was considered.

The condition causes the upper airways to repeatedly close during sleep, and sufferers constantly wake up to breathe, leaving them tired the next day.

Mr Wrighton was initially charged with causing death by dangerous driving, but the Crown Prosecution Service offered no evidence against him after his sleeping condition was revealed.

In giving his narrative verdict, the coroner said: "It is my intention to prepare a Rule 43 Report to the Lord Chancellor concerning obstructive sleep apnoea in an endeavour to reduce the number of deaths that arise annually from this condition."

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