A POLICEMAN killed in a road crash while answering a 999 call was driving too fast for his ability, an inquest heard.

The Harrogate hearing was told how PC Andrew Bramma drove from Ripon at speeds of upto 70mph in a police van in an attempt to reach the scene of a two car crash on Swinney Bridge, Masham.

The married father-of-two volunteered to attend the incident, initially believed to involve a drink driver, minutes after arriving at Ripon police station to cover half a shift on January 5.

The inquest heard that PC Bramma, who had transferred to North Yorkshire Police from the Greater Manchester force in September, may never have previously driven on the undulating and winding A6108.

Motorists said driving conditions were good when they saw PC Bramma overtake them at speed with his blue lights flashing shortly after 7pm.

As PC Bramma passed West Tanfield Cricket Club at 70mph, an officer from the Hambleton Police Group reached the Masham incident.

But as PC Bramma's police radio was tuned to the Harrogate Police Group frequencies he remained unaware the emergency had ended.

As the 32-year-old negotiated a left hand bend near West Tanfield, he lost control of the van, which in non emergency situations has a 50mph limit.

Police accident investigator Graham McCulloch said tyre marks revealed the van careered across the road and the officer had attempted to regain control as it ploughed along a grass verge for 60 metres.

He said: "PC Bramma, who qualified as a police response driver in 2010 and was retested when he joined the North Yorkshire force, did not use his brakes and the van rotated before hitting a tree."

Minutes after passing drivers spotted the crashed police van, a Yorkshire Ambulance Service paramedic had confirmed that PC Bramma had died.

A post mortem found he had suffered injuries to his ribs, liver and spleen but had died from a blow to the head.

Mr McCulloch said: "Previous knowledge of a road makes it easier to determine speed and Andrew may have tried to negotiate this bend at a speed that was beyond his ability or the van's capability."

PC Bramma's father, Brian, said: "He genuinely thought he was attending an incident to help the public, he didn't know other officers had arrived."

Recording a verdict of accidental death, coroner Rob Turnbull said the accident had been caused by an error of judgement.

He said: "I am sure that had things panned out differently, he would have been told not to drive at that speed but there wasn't the time to get that message back to him."