Highways England may face manslaughter charges after gran died on smart motorway
HIGHWAYS England could face manslaughter charges after a gran died on a smart motorway.
A coroner investigating the death of Nargis Begum, 62, has referred Highways England to the Crown Prosecution Service to consider whether manslaughter charges are appropriate.
Ms Begum, from Sheffield, died on the M1 in South Yorkshire, near Woodhall Services, in September 2018.
She had got out of a broken down Nissan Qashqai car and was waiting for help when another vehicle collided with the Nissan, causing it to plough into her.
At a pre-inquest review hearing at Doncaster Coroner's Court on Thursday, senior coroner Nicola Mundy said the length of time the stationary vehicle went undetected was among the reasons for her decision.
Giving her ruling and adjourning the inquest after referring the case to the CPS, Doncaster coroner Nicola Mundy said: "As to the question of corporate manslaughter, I will say again that I have to be satisfied there is sufficient evidence for a referral.
"It would be a nonsense really for me to carry on and not deal with matters of criminality.
"As I have said, I have looked at all of the evidence available to me. This includes the length of time the Nissan was stationary in the live running lane with no warning signs or lane closures. It was over 16 minutes.
"All of these matters go to the heart of effective management.
"I do think there is more than sufficient evidence to have proper scrutiny in terms of criminality.
"I conclude there is such evidence to refer to the CPS. I will invite them to review this matter to determine whether or not charges are appropriate in this case.
Speaking after the hearing on Thursday, Nargis Begum's daughter Saima Aktar said: "While time continues to pass the feeling of grief and loss we feel over Mum's death doesn't disappear.
"The last two years and trying to come to terms with what happened has been incredibly difficult, especially for my dad – that he avoided injury but his loving and caring wife of 45 years died in front of him has taken its toll on him.
"We're pleased that the coroner has taken our concerns seriously and has referred our mum's death to the CPS.
"We're determined to do everything we can to campaign for change and for action to be taken around the use of smart motorways."
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