Safety questions raised after death of ex-mayoress of West Norfolk

A former mayoress killed as she tried to cross a busy King's Lynn road was just a few steps from safety when she was hit by a dustbin lorry, an inquest heard.

Judith Daubney turned around and started to walk back as the lights changed, but was killed instantly when the truck pulled off at the London Road junction with Norfolk Street, on May 26 last year.

Mrs Daubney, a small business adviser, was the widow of former mayor Les Daubney and the stepmother of Nick Daubney, the current leader of West Norfolk Council.

The 65-year-old walked with bags of shopping just outside the pedestrian crossing and was in the lorry driver's blind spot, the inquest heard yesterday.

She suffered multiple injuries, and Greater Norfolk coroner William Armstrong concluded that she died as a result of a road traffic collision.

Mr Armstrong said he would ask Norfolk County Council to investigate whether extra safety measures were needed at the junction, such as crash barriers to ensure people used the marked crossing.

He said: 'Not only was Judith a much-loved mother and grandmother, she was a greatly respected, much-involved member of the local community which she served with pride and distinction.'

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Witness Debbie Germaney was cycling to pick her son up from school when she saw the horrific accident at about 4.20pm on May 26.

Mrs Germaney broke down in tears as she gave evidence and Mr Armstrong said he was aware of the trauma witnesses had gone through.

'She was only one or two steps from the pavement,' she told the inquest at Swaffham Magistrates' Court.

Lorry driver Trevor Payne said he heard a bang and saw shopping in the road, but was not aware he had hit anyone until he was told.

'This young chap said 'Are you all right mate?' I said 'What's the matter?' and he said 'You just ran a lady over.''

Van driver Adrian Bostrom, who was waiting at the lights in another lane, saw Mrs Daubney hunched over 'like someone making a mad dash'.

'The lights turned green and there was a period of time before we moved away. We did not just dart ahead,' he said.

Another witness, Neal Cartwright said the dust lorry had 'pulled off very slowly.'

PC Wendy Biddle, a forensic crash investigator, said there was nothing to suggest that Mr Payne had driven in anything other than a safe and sensible manner. PC Biddle said that even with mirrors and care, the vehicle had inevitable blindspots. The traffic lights were working properly and there was nothing wrong with the lorry, she said.

Mrs Daubney married Les in 1989, the year he became West Norfolk mayor, and the couple enjoyed spending time in Spain.

Mr Armstrong said she had lived a life of service and dedication, which many people would take inspiration from.