The tragic death of a young couple while they were on honeymoon was the result of a road traffic collision, a coroner has ruled.
Emma and Jonathan Gray, both 25, of Heath Lea, Halifax, were killed when a quad bike they were travelling on as rear passengers crashed into a tree.
Both suffered traumatic head injuries.
Calderdale Coroners’ Court heard that the much-loved couple, who had a six-month old son Jake at the time, were on a once-in-a-lifetime trip to the Kuredu Island Resort in the Maldives to celebrate their honeymoon in August 2011.
On the evening of Friday, August 5, the couple had gone to a bar to socialise with other holidaymakers. While there, they met two other couples and Filip Petre, an employee at the resort.
Petre, a Swedish national, invited the three couples to a private party on the island. In the early hours of the morning, the other couples made their way back to their villa and Petre offered to drive the newlyweds back to their villa on a quad bike.
Detective Inspector Simon Atkinson, of West Yorkshire Police, said one of the other couples heard a thud and thought there may have been an accident.
They saw the quadbike and Mr and Mrs Gray nearby “clearly injured”.
Petre was spoken to by Maldives police and stated he was driving the quad bike when the wheels lost traction. He blacked out and the quad bike trailed to the right hand side. When he woke, he saw the motionless bodies of Mr and Mrs Gray.
Following an examination of the quad bike, it was thought there may have been problems with tyres and steering on the vehicle.
Samples taken from Petre, around 16 to 17 hours after the crash, were negative for drugs and alcohol. While Mr and Mrs Gray did have alcohol in their system, DI Atkinson said: “There was nothing to suggest they were so impaired they did not know what they were doing.”
Petre was charged with ‘disobedience to order’ in the Maldives, but was acquitted in 2013. The prosecution later tried to appeal the acquittal, but Petre jumped bail to his native Sweden, leaving no realistic prospect of further criminal proceedings.
The Crown Prosecution Service has advised there are no grounds to prosecute him in the UK.
Delivering his verdict, Mr Longstaff said: “What is clear is that the quad bike came into contact, at some speed, with a tree. We can’t say what speed.
“As it was trying to negotiate a bend it started to travel sideways. It came into contact with the tree, causing minor damage to the bike, minor injuries to Mr Petre and disastrous, fatal injuries to Mr and Mrs Gray.
“These are deaths due to a road traffic collision. This verdict hardly gives justice to the huge holes left in the lives of their friends and families.
“The love they had for each other and their son shines through. I am sure that both parents have the welfare of Jake at the centre of their thoughts.
“I hope as the years roll by and Jake grows up, it will be possible to think back to their relationship and not think about the circumstances in which they sadly died.”
He added there was no scope for a verdict of unlawful killing because there had not been a conviction in connection with Mr and Mrs Gray’s deaths.
The couple’s son Jake, who is now four, lives with his paternal uncle and his wife. An undisclosed settlement from Kuredu Holdings PVT Limited, the owner of the resort, will provide for him as he grows up.
Emma’s father, Rodney Oldfield, said: “The past few years have been completely heartbreaking for our families and we are still struggling to come to terms with losing Emma.
“She was really looking forward to her honeymoon in the Maldives to celebrate the start of her married life and her life was so cruelly cut short because of what happened.
“We are focusing all our care and attention on Jake and giving him everything he needs.”