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A coroner investigating a smart motorway death has referred Highways England to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) to consider whether corporate manslaughter charges are appropriate.
Nargis Begum, 62, from Sheffield, died on a stretch of the M1 without a hard shoulder 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. Mundy was told at a previous hearing that 16 minutes elapsed between the Nissan breaking down and the collision. It took a further six minutes before warning signs were activated.
Outlining other factors in her referral of the case to the CPS, Mundy described how “nobody has responsibility for monitoring cameras” relaying footage of smart motorways.
She added that there was a “distinct lack of knowledge and education of drivers in the region” in relation to how the onus was on them to report incidents.
Companies found guilty of corporate manslaughter face unlimited fines, according to the Sentencing Council.
A spokesman for Highways England said: “Our deepest sympathies are with the family of Mrs Begum, and all those affected by this tragic incident. Although we do not believe Highways England has committed any offence we will of course cooperate fully in any investigation.”