Parents could bring private prosecution against driver
THE family of a man who was struck by a lorry on a pedestrian crossing say they may launch a private prosecution, despite a coroner ruling that his death was an accident.
Jake Thompson, 27, from Totterdown, died in May last year, five days after he was hit by a lorry as he crossed the A37 Wells Road at the Three Lamps junction.
The lorry driver, Paul Vowles, was driving at 38mph in a 30mph limit shortly before his wing mirror struck Mr Thompson, an inquest heard.
Coroner Maria Voisin recorded a verdict of accidental death yesterday at Flax Bourton Coroner's Court.
Mr Thompson's family said they were "stunned and extremely disappointed" at the verdict.
They said they were considering a civil prosecution against the driver.
The court heard that Mr Thompson, a teaching assistant, had stepped out into the road while a red light was displayed to pedestrians. Moments later he was hit by a lorry travelling at 28mph or 29mph, which had slowed from 38mph, according to the tachograph.
But witnesses could not be sure what colour the traffic light was when the lorry passed through the crossing.
One witness, Deane Brown, said he remembered his surprise at the speed Mr Vowles was driving but could not be sure that he had gone through a red light.
Another witness, Neil Taylor, said the light that the lorry passed was "on the cusp" of changing from amber to red.
Mr Vowles, accepted that he was travelling above the speed limit as he approached but told the court he did not have enough time to react to Mr Thompson stepping into the road in front of him.
Brian Cummins, representing the family, questioned Sergeant David Loat, who was in charge of the police investigation into the incident, as to why only three witnesses were presented to the inquest.
Sgt Loat said other witnesses had either been untraceable or had not seen the collision itself and were not relevant.
He said that the evidence given at the hearing would not prompt any further investigations.
Mrs Voisin said: "The witness evidence differs as to whether the traffic light was red or green and remains unclear even to police officers."
Mrs Voisin concluded the inquest by saying that the "tragic" incident was an accidental death.
She said: "All that remains for me to say to the family is, I am sorry."
After the hearing, Mr Thompson's mother and father, Jane and John Thompson, said: "To lose a son at such an early age is heartbreaking for any parent."
They said the decision not to charge Mr Vowles in relation to the incident had caused "further heartache".
"To now be told that Jake's death was an accident compounds our distress. We want to see the driver in court and fear that the coroner's verdict today makes that battle more difficult.
"We will be consulting with our lawyer about the possibility of pursuing a private prosecution.
"No parent should go through what we have."
In court, a statement from Mr Thompson's sister, also named Jane, was read out.
It said: "Jake was dearly loved by all those whose lives he touched. He was unbelievably kind and had a great amount of respect for everyone.
"He took a lot of pleasure in trying to help children and young people who hadn't had the same opportunities as we had.
"Jake had sent me a card at the end of April 2011 in which he showed much excitement and enthusiasm for the month ahead of him. Little did he know this month in which he had so much planned would be the month in which his life would end."
David Robinson, of Thompsons solicitors, representing the family, added: "We are disappointed with the verdict today.
"In our view there are a number of lines of enquiry that have not been considered including the tracing of witnesses."
Mr Robinson said the family was considering bringing a private prosecution against Mr Vowles.