Farmer’s death was an accident

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THE death of a Drinkstone man who was struck by a car while crossing the A14 was a tragic accident, a coroner has ruled.

James Clarke, who was 25, died after he jumped over a crash barrier at Haughley and was hit by a Peugeot 206 in July last year.

His inquest, held in Bury St Edmunds on Tuesday, heard that Mr Clarke and his girlfriend Kayleigh Maclachlan, had been travelling home from a wedding reception in Stowmarket, in a car driven by their friend Stuart Bass.

The couple were arguing and so Mr Bass decided to stop the car.

Mr Clarke got out and walked across the A14 – Mr Bass tried to stop his friend, but Mr Clarke jumped over the central reservation and was hit by another car. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Coroner Dr Peter Dean said Mr Clarke had 203 milligrams of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood, which he said was ‘a level likely to impact on his judgement and decision making’.

Pc Andrew Fossey who attended the accident said there was nothing to indicate that the Peugeot driver, Joanne Smith, had been speeding.

“There is nothing she could have done to avoid the collision,” he said.

Dr Dean said Mr Clarke’s death was a ‘tragic accident’.

Mr Clarke was the son of the Woolpit Whiff farmer, the late John Clarke. He took over the running of Rookery Farm in Drinkstone before his father’s death in 2009.

He had five older sisters, and was a skilled engineer and a BMW enthusiast whose converted cars featured in specialist magazines.

His mother Ethne, speaking after Tuesday’s inquest, said: “He was hard working, humorous and honourable just like his father. He has left a huge gap in our family. He was our only boy and our youngest child. He was loved, I miss him so much.”

She also said her thoughts were with Ms Smith, who was driving the Peugeot that struck her son.

“We don’t have any ill feeling against the girl. Her life will be blighted forever by this,” said Mrs Clarke.