WYCOMBE Wanderers player Mark Philo had drunk five or six pints of lager before the fatal car smash that killed him and a 47-year-old woman, an inquest heard yesterday.

The 21-year-old rising star was driving his silver Vauxhall Astra towards a blind crest in Sandhurst Road, Wokingham, Berkshire, when he veered onto the wrong side of the road and hit Patricia Gammon's Renault Megane in the early hours of January 14 this year.

He was one-and-a-half times over the drink-drive limit when tests were carried out at the time of his death.

The two passengers in his car, Thomas Ellis and Paul Ray, had been out drinking with the footballer before the crash.

Paul Ray, who had known Mr Philo since he was 11, told Windsor Coroner's Court the three friends had been drinking in the Golden Retriever pub in Wokingham, from 8.30pm until closing time.

He said: "I had probably had about seven pints of lager, Mark had less probably five or six. We were planning to just go home, and then we drove around to see where else was open. We thought it would be all right."

The friends ended up in another bar called The Gig House, where they stayed drinking for another hour, before leaving at 1am.

Witness Michael Nemeth, from Sandhurst, told the court he saw Mark Philo's Astra swerve onto the wrong side of the road at speed.

He said: "As they passed me, I thought to myself steady on guys'. The next thing I heard was an almighty bang."

PC Andrew Bryant, the collision investigation officer, confirmed that Mark's car was on the wrong side of the road when the smash happened. He said the dip in the road would have made seeing another car very difficult. It emerged that neither of the drivers were wearing seatbelts, but PC Bryant confirmed the nature of the collision meant both would have died anyway.

Mark Philo suffered horrific injuries when his car spun into a nearby telegraph pole. He died 15 hours later at 4.20pm at the Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading.

Mrs Gammon died instantly after her car was forced into a nearby concrete gate post.

Coroner Peter Bedford said there was no doubt that Mr Philo's actions were dangerous.

He said: "I'm left with the driver in excess of the drink drive limit, driving a motor car which is three quarters over the white line approaching the brow of a hill, which is obviously dangerous."

He added: "I have no doubt that had Mr Philo survived he would have been the subject of a criminal prosecution.

"He was the author of his own misfortune."

Mr Bedford returned a verdict of unlawful killing for Mrs Gammon and accidental death for Mr Philo.