Opera singer’s death was an accident – inquest

Robert Poulton
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Glyndebourne opera singer Robert Poulton was killed following a head-on collision with a car that had drifted onto his side of the road, an inquest has heard.

Poulton survived the car crash but then died on the way to the hospital in an ambulance after suffering a cardiac arrest from internal injuries caused by his seatbelt.

The court heard how a paramedic who attended the scene first was delayed after his satnav sent him the wrong way, while a doctor that was called out was diverted to another incident.

The 55-year-old baritone was travelling home along the B2102, a single lane carriageway in East Sussex, in October 2012 when the accident occurred at a bend in the road just before 9pm.

Investigating officer PC Paul Banks said it was estimated that both Poulton and the other driver were travelling at around 60 mph before they collided near Heathfield on the dark road.

He said it was unlikely that Poulton would have had time to react to the oncoming vehicle.

The court heard how the other driver, 19-year-old sales assistant Jessica Christie-Sturges, died at the scene from injuries.

She had broken up with her boyfriend of nine months earlier in the evening and it was unknown why she was driving along the B2102, as this route was in the opposite direction to her home.

Banks added that it was likely that Christie-Sturges had a “momentary lapse of concentration”.

Chris Wilkinson, assistant coroner for East Sussex, recorded a verdict of accidental death for both Poulton and Christie-Sturges.

Poulton has two sons, aged 22 and 13, and a wife, Philippa Poulton, who described him as a loving father and husband and a “consummate professional” with whom everybody wanted to work.

She said: “This accident was a tragedy for both sets of families involved and Robert’s untimely death when he was quietly driving home is a particularly harsh loss to everybody who knew and loved him.”

Lawyer Jenny Kennedy from Anthony Gold, who is representing Mrs Poulton, confirmed that her client was at the early stages of a compensation claim.

A public memorial event, called Robert Poulton - His Life in all its Glory, will take place at Glyndebourne on September 22 from 2pm to 6pm.