Haredi Philanthropist Took Cocaine Before Fatal Crash, U.K. Inquest Finds

Details of accident which killed North London man Benzion Dunner, 45, were kept mum until this week.

Traces of cocaine were found in the body of a renowned ultra-Orthodox philanthropist who was killed in a car accident six months ago, according to an investigation carried out by British police.

Benzion Dunner, 45, a father of nine from the wealthy North London neighborhood of Golders Green, had apparently been under the influence of the drug when he decided to drive two of his sons and a family friend to a holiday home in Bournemouth, in the south of England.

The circumstances leading up to the accident remained mysterious until newspapers in Britain this week reported the results of an inquest into the crash.

The investigation found that Dunner, who lost control of his Bentley while overtaking another vehicle at 130 km/h, had taken cocaine prior to the incident. Dunner was killed instantly after his car slid down an embankment and ploughed into a tree. His passengers and the two men traveling in the other vehicle escaped with minor injuries.

Two days before the accident Dunner threw a Purim party at his London home. His relatives said he was "writing checks until 4 in the morning," that amounted to more than 2 million pounds. His funeral was attended by 3,000 mourners.

The inquest relied on the testimony of a toxicologist who claimed to have found traces of cocaine in Dunner's blood and urine.

Asked if the cocaine would have affected the victim's driving, the Bournemouth coroner Mr. Sheriff Payne told the Daily Mail: "Sure, yes."

After his death, Chief Rabbi Sir Jonathan Sacks paid tribute to Dunner, saying he was "an outstanding exemplar of Jewish values and Jewish responsibility...whose work was done quietly behind the scenes and was all the more impressive for that."