Karl Bebbington killed by lorry after night out with friends, inquest hears

Karl Bebbington died aged 27, on the A505 Royston bypass. Picture: Courtesy of Natalie Mclarney

Karl Bebbington died aged 27, on the A505 Royston bypass. Picture: Courtesy of Natalie Mclarney - Credit: Archant

A 27-year-old man from Royston died from “multiple traumatic injuries” after being hit by a lorry on the A505 Royston bypass, an inquest heard today.

Karl Bebbington died aged 27, on the A505 Royston bypass. Picture: Courtesy of Natalie Mclarney

Karl Bebbington died aged 27, on the A505 Royston bypass. Picture: Courtesy of Natalie Mclarney - Credit: Archant

Factory operative Karl Bebbington had been on a night out with his Conqueror Industries work colleagues in Royston town centre before he was hit on the westbound carriageway of the A505 – 300m from the roundabout with the A10 Melbourn Road – in the early hours of Saturday, October 14, 2017.

Hertfordshire coroner Geoffrey Sullivan said it was “one of the most serious injury reports he had ever read” and said that “based upon his experience of reading many autopsy reports, he was comfortable in saying that Karl wouldn’t have even been aware of being hit”.

The inquest heard that Karl and a colleague began their Friday night out at The Manor House Wetherspoon pub in Melbourn Street at around 6.30pm, before going onto The Green Man in Market Hill.

Giving evidence, investigating officer Robin Ansell said that by 11.45pm Karl was among a group of eight who planned to go to a party on the Twigdens estate. A taxi for seven arrived, so Karl and a friend decided to walk.

Karl Bebbingto has been described by his family as a "born legend" who would help anyone. Picture: C

Karl Bebbingto has been described by his family as a "born legend" who would help anyone. Picture: Courtesy of Natalie McLarney - Credit: Archant

It was said at the hearing that Karl changed his mind and he and his friend parted ways near the church on the A10 – and, when they did, his friend saw Karl put white earphones in his ear, according to a witness statement read out.

Another friend saw Karl at around 2am on Saturday morning by a postbox near Stamford Avenue. His statement said that Karl “appeared to be asleep” on the ground and when he tapped him there was no reply at first.

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“Karl then rolls over and puts his thumb up,” the inquest heard.

Coroner Mr Sullivan said that in the statement, his friend told Karl to “make sure you get home” and said according to the witness Karl wasn’t distressed, but “drunk, tired and just wanted to sleep”.

The inquest at The Old Courthouse in Hatfield heard that Karl was hit by a Royal Mail HGV on the A505 at about 4.06am on the Saturday morning, on a stretch that was not lit and did not have a footpath.

Investigating officer Ansell said that, in an interview, the driver told police he started work at 7pm that evening driving from Norwich to Hatfield, and that the lorry had come off the lit roundabout area onto the unlit carriageway – heading towards the roundabout for the A1198.

The inquest heard that the driver saw “white shoes and then a dark silhouette six feet in front of him” – it was later confirmed that Karl was wearing dark Converse shoes and the white would be on the rubber soles of the shoes.

The driver had told police he was surprised the person he saw – who was walking with his back to the lorry – didn’t react to the sound of his vehicle.

Mr Ansell told the inquest that the driver said he didn’t have time to sound his horn so swerved to the right and hit the brakes, but struck Karl.

It was said that the driver drove on for 385m to a layby before calling his manager and then the police, and that the first officer at the scene, PC Cox, saw the driver with “his head in his hands”.

The coroner was told by police present at the inquest it was acceptable that the driver found a safe place to stop rather than stopping where Karl was hit and said that the driver was breathalysed at the scene.

Karl’s family asked if the driver was given a blood test, to which the answer was that it wasn’t standard practice if they didn’t have reason to believe he was on drugs.

It was said that it would have taken the driver one second to see Karl – who was wearing dark clothes – with dipped headlights on, and then possibly another second to do something, by which time it would have been too late.

Mr Sullivan queried with PC Hollingsworth – who attended the scene at about 5.30am, and gave evidence at the inquest regarding forensics – if the dipped beam headlights that the lorry driver had on at that time were acceptable, to which the answer was that it was.

And to whether if the driver had full beams on the outcome would be different, PC Hollingsworth said: “It was still unavoidable, with full beams he may see something slightly earlier, but it doesn’t change it a great deal.”

Paramedics also attended and administered CPR but Karl, whose body was on grass at the side of the road was pronounced dead at 5am.

PC Hollingsworth said that there were Soreen cake bar wrappers on the road near where Karl was hit, and that it was likely he was holding the multipacket and either eating or going to eat one of the bars when he died.

He told the hearing that the Royston bypass “is not a place where pedestrian would be expected”, there was no footpath, and “no obvious reason for a pedestrian to be there.”

Toxicology found that Karl had ingested alcohol that night, and cocaine and cannabis “in the days or hours” before he died. No witness statements at the inquest said Karl had taken drugs that night.

Coroner Geoffrey Sullivan said the relevance of toxicity was that his decision to walk on the road would have been affected by alcohol and drugs.

The family said in the hearing that Karl had walked the route many times before and that it was “nothing to do with him drinking or having drugs in his system”.

Before giving the conclusion, the coroner read a statement from Karl’s mum Natalie Mclarney, who said that “Karl was a happy person who saw good in everyone, with a grin that lit up the world” and that he “didn’t smile with his mouth, he smiled with his whole face”.

She said “he was kind, sincere and genuine”, that “it was a pleasure to be his mum” and that he was missed by his whole family.

Mr Sullivan concluded that Karl Bebbington died as a result of a road traffic collision.