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Tragic Lothario drunk at the wheel

PUBLISHED: 23:11 29 May 2004 | UPDATED: 04:55 02 March 2010

AN Ipswich drink-driving Lothario fatally injured in a car crash, was conducting secret affairs with three women at the time of his death.

Today it emerged, Nicholas Palmer's incredible love life also included fathering a child by one of his girlfriends, unbeknown to his fiancée and the other woman.

AN Ipswich drink-driving Lothario fatally injured in a car crash, was conducting secret affairs with three women at the time of his death.

Today it emerged, Nicholas Palmer's incredible love life also included fathering a child by one of his girlfriends, unbeknown to his fiancée and the other woman.

An inquest into the 29-year-old's death also revealed he had downed almost a bottle of vodka before getting behind the wheel of his car.

Milton Keynes Coroner's Court heard how Mr Palmer, formerly of Fircroft Road, Ipswich, had been travelling home when the fatal crash occurred.

The former Thurleston High School pupil and Suffolk College student had stopped his Fiat Marea in a lay-by along the A509 between Chicheley and Sherington on Monday Jan 5.

He attempted to make a U-turn, but pulled out into the path of a blue Rover 414 driven by 24-year-old Paul Watters.

Mr Watters was unable to stop his car from hitting Mr Palmer's.

Witnesses and collision investigators said they believed Mr Palmer had not been wearing a seatbelt as he was found in the passenger footwell.

He was taken to hospital in Milton Keynes, but died from multiple fractures resulting in a blood clot and respiratory failure two days later.

A post mortem revealed he was three times the legal driving limit.

The court heard Mr Palmer had a home with his fiancée, Claire Payne, in Kettering, but had been seeing at least two other women at the same time

One of the women, Helen Burton from Norfolk attended the inquest and said Mr Palmer was the father of her eight-month-old son.

Neither Miss Payne nor Miss Burton knew each other existed until after his death and neither woman knew of a third girlfriend, who was also mentioned at the inquest.

Robert Goodwin, Mr Palmer's boss at the Angel public house in Toddington, Beds, said Mr Palmer turned up days earlier with a lady he introduced as his girlfriend. However he said that neither lady present at the inquest was the woman he saw.

Mr Goodwin said Mr Palmer was acting strangely on the day he died – his first day in his new job. He said: "He arrived late and appeared dishevelled. It was almost as if he was performing on stage.

"I asked him if he was on drugs and he rolled up his sleeves and denied he was taking anything. The thought never crossed my mind that he could be drunk as he had been with me most of the day.

"I became really concerned and told him to go home. It was not until a couple of days later and I knew he had died, that I a bottle of vodka with about an inch of liquid left in it in a cupboard in his room.

"I am certain that when he said he had to nip out to buy items for his washbag he had in fact bought the vodka."

Claire Payne, his fiancée of three years, said: "He could be a bit of a showman at times. I had noticed Nick had started to drink directly out of bottles of coke and I suppose in hindsight he could have been adding vodka to the soft drinks.

"I was not aware about any other ladies and our relationship seemed fine."

Mr Palmer had been offered a live-in job in December and had told his fiancée Miss Payne she would be able to visit whenever she wished.

However he had told Miss Burton she and their son would be able to move in with him at the pub.

Coroner Rodney Corner said: "He (Palmer) was well over the limit and the amount of alcohol in his blood would certainly have impaired his ability to assess the situation.

"His personal background is very strange. His personal life was in turmoil and I do not think this helped his concentration."

A verdict of accidental death was recorded.

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