Dereham grandfather died in head-on crash after young driver lost control, inquest hears

A Dereham grandfather died after a young driver lost control and collided head-on with his car on a quiet country road, an inquest has heard.

Michael Roberts, 56, was killed in a crash on the B1110 near Beetley on May 12 last year when Alexander Head's car spun into the oncoming lane as it went round a right-hand bend.

Mr Head told an inquest in Norwich that the car had spun on the slippery road, which may have been caused by oil on the surface, though other drivers on the road at the time said the road conditions were not hazardous.

He and his friend, Samuel Andrews, were driving from Dereham to North Elmham in separate cars when the collision happened at around 5.25pm, the inquest heard.

Coroner William Armstrong said it was 'puzzling' that Mr Head and Mr Andrews were travelling separately to meet friends at the same location in North Elmham, and they seemed to have 'no particular objective in mind'.

'Sadly there are no independent witnesses to what happened,' he said. 'Nobody else encountered any oil on the road, and it didn't cause any problems for anybody else.'

He recorded that Mr Roberts, a furniture maker from Beech Court, Dereham, had died as a result of a road accident.

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Evidence from the accident was passed to the Crown Prosecution Service though no prosecution was brought.

The inquest, held on Tuesday, heard that Mr Head had been travelling at between 50 and 60 miles per hour when he lost control.

He said: 'It felt like I had hit ice. The car pulled to the left hand side and the back wheels swung left, and I lost grip.

'Then I looked up and I saw [Mr Roberts's] car.'

Mr Andrews, who was following in a car around 30 metres behind, said: 'I have never been on such a surface that was that slippery in my life.'

PC Travis Flannagan told the court that the road was damp but not hazardous following an earlier rain shower, and despite driving to the scene of the accident at speed his vehicle 'was not affected at all'.

Accident investigator PC Nicholas Kett said oil was found on the road surface at the point Mr Head lost control, but said it was possible it had been spilt from the car and spread on the shoes of emergency services staff as they dealt with the incident.

Mr Armstrong paid tribute to Mr Roberts as a 'loving dad and grandfather' and a conscientious and fun-loving man who was highly respected in his profession.

He was well-known for playing in the local football teams and also loved golf or visiting Scotland to watch the game.

mark.shields@archant.co.uk.

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