A couple were killed on honeymoon in the Maldives leaving behind their five-month-old son after accepting a lift home on a quad bike that crashed, an inquest heard.
Jonathan and Emma Gray, both 25, had gone to a private party on the Kuredu Island Resort in August 2011.
At the end of the night, the host of the party, Filip Petre, offered to drive Mr and Mrs Gray and two other couples back to their villas on a quad bike, an inquest heard.
The other couples declined but Mr and Mrs Gray, both of Halifax, West Yorks., accepted.
The inquest heard the couple rode on the back of Petre’s bike at high speed before the bike crashed into a tree as it tried to negotiate a bend.
Petre escaped with minor injuries but Mr and Mrs Gray both died instantaneously.
Petre was subsequently charged with ‘disobedience to order’ by Maldives State Prosecutors, which carried the death penalty as its maximum sentence, the inquest heard.
He was acquitted before the prosecution later tried to appeal for his conviction.
But, the inquest heard Petre jumped bail to escape to his native Sweden and is “highly unlikely” to face any more criminal proceedings.
Coroner Oliver Longstaff, at Halifax Coroners Court, recorded a verdict of death by road traffic collision at an inquest.
He said: “These circumstances can only be described as a tragedy. Their family and friends have been left hanging for many, many years for a conclusion to this tragedy.
“Can I say to you all how very, very sorry I am that you have had to wait for this hearing?
“I was struck by some things Emma’s mother, Susan Oldfield, said as far back as 2012 – that being reminded of these events is a stress every time, and that all she wanted to do was draw a line under all this.”
The couple first met as children when living next door to each other, but lost touch before bumping into one another in 2005.
In a statement provided by Mrs Oldfield at the time of the accident read out in court, Emma was described as a loving wife and mother to her five month old son, Jake.
She said: “Emma and Jonathan were so happily in love. Emma was so proud of Jay, and he was so proud of her job as a primary school teacher.
“Jay booked a surprise trip to New York and he proposed in a horse drawn carriage in Central Park on New Year’s Eve.
“When Emma found out she was pregnant, she asked me whether she should still go on her honeymoon. I told her she should, and baby Jake arrived in 2011.
“She was a really good mum, she took to motherhood like a duck to water.
“The wedding was fantastic and Emma looked beautiful. We really miss Emma and Jay and I have no idea what I will do without Emma.”
Mr Gray’s mother Catherine Davis described how Jonathan, a keen artist, had made her so proud in his job as a kitchen designer.
She said: “He worked hard and played hard and became a lovely young man.
“He fell in love with Emma, and was accepted into her family.
“Jay was a fantastic dad to Jake. He just loved being a dad and a husband.”
At the inquest Detective Superintendent Simon Atkinson of West Yorkshire Police described the events of the night of the tragedy.
He said: “On the night of August 5 2011, Mr and Mrs Gray went to a bar on the Kerudu Resort. There they met Mr Petre who told them his father owned the resort. His father didn’t own it, but he was a shareholder.
“Mr Petre worked at the resort as a trainee guest relations officer.”
“Mr Petre took the Grays and two other couples back to his brother’s house but the party was broken up when his brother Tom arrived back at the property.
“Mr Petre obtained the keys for the quad bike from a security guard and offered Mr and Mrs Gray a lift. The other couples declined.”
“A short time later, one of the couples had arrived back to their villa when they heard a loud thump. They ran out and saw the bike crashed into a tree, with the bodies of Mr and Mr Gray nearby.
“Fearing for their safety they returned back to their villa.”
Mr and Mrs Gray weren’t discovered by doctors until some hours later, after Petre alerted his brother to the accident.
He was charged with disobedience to order in 2012 but acquitted of all charges in 2013, and the Crown Prosecution Service advises that they would not be able to bring charges against him in the UK
Delivering the verdict, Mr Longstaff said: “The verdict of road traffic collision hardly gives justice to the huge hole left in the lives they left behind.
“The love that they had for each other and their son is evident from family statements. I am sure that both families have the welfare of Jake at the centre of their thoughts.
“I hope that as the years roll by and as Jake grows up, they will be comforted by thoughts of their lives and not dwell on their tragic deaths.”
Speaking after the verdict, Mrs Gray’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 would like to thank the coroner, West Yorkshire Police and our legal team at Irwin Mitchell for investigating the circumstances leading up to Emma’s death in 2011 and for all their help and support. We are focussing all our care and attention on Jake and giving him everything he needs.”