A drink-driver suspected of causing a crash which left a Keighley man with devastating injuries later fled to Spain to evade justice and then hanged himself on his return to the UK, an inquest heard.

The suspect, who was not named, is believed to have been at the wheel of a car which mounted the pavement and struck Stewart Whitaker, in Slough, Berkshire, in September 1999. Police say the man is believed to have taken his own life when he later returned to this country.

The details were revealed at the inquest in Bradford today into the death of Mr Whitaker, of Harewood Hill, Oakworth, who died in January, aged 43, from a lung infection more than 14 years after he was struck by the car.

His father John Whitaker, 74, together with a nursing team, had cared for his son, who was confined to a bed and could not walk or speak.

The inquest was told that Stewart Whitaker, who was working as a site manager in Slough, was struck by a car which mounted the pavement. The car was later found burned out. Mr Whitaker, then 29, suffered severe brain injuries.

Recording a verdict of unlawful killing, Assistant Bradford Coroner Dr Dominic Bell said the police had indicated that they would be unlikely to make any progress with a criminal inquiry over the 1999 crash.

Dr Bell said: “We would wish to acknowledge Mr Whitaker’s family for their care for Stewart for some considerable time.”

Stewart’s father has already paid tribute to his son and thanked the nursing team for their dedicated care.

Mr Whitaker said his son had been a “lovely, friendly, generous person”.

Stewart Whitaker was born in Keighley and educated at Oakbank School.

He completed a motor engineering apprenticeship, before moving to Los Angeles for two years, where he worked with cars and fitted kitchens.

On his return to England, he got a job with a company that refurbished pubs and hotels.

The family was assisted by a team of visiting district nurses from Kilmeny Surgery.

Mr Whitaker, who also has a daughter, Ellen, and son, Robert, said the nurses’ dedication deserved recognition.