The driver who was behind the wheel of the taxi which hit Liam Hibbins will not be charged with any offence, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has confirmed.
The 26-year-old landscape gardener died after being hit by a car, driven by Colin Clarke, on an unlit section of the Coast Road in Redcar.
Liam, who had spent the day at the races with friends, was believed to have been attempting to flag down a taxi as he made his way home to Skelton.
He was rushed to James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough where he passed away as a result of head and neck injuries on October 8, 2017.
During his inquest, held at Teesside Coroner’s Court this week, Coroner Clare Bailey ruled that Mr Clarke was, on the basis of probability, speeding at the time.
Mr Clarke told the hearing, sitting at Teesside Magistrates’ Court, that he was completing his final job, transporting two passengers, and travelling with his dipped beam headlights on the lowest setting.
He said he began to accelerate when the speed limit on the Coast Road changed from 30mph to 40mph and saw what he described as a “silhouette” around 16m ahead of him.
Mr Clarke said he did not realise it was Mr Hibbins, who was wearing dark clothes and had his back to him, until he was was five metres away and it was too late to stop.
He said: “I’m still adamant I was doing 37, had I been doing 30 I think I would have still hit.
“Obviously I believe, and I still believe, I wasn’t directly responsible for Liam’s death in that I caused it.
“I don’t believe I could do anything different.”
Mr Clarke also told the court in Middlesbrough that he believed the Coast Road was dangerous due to a lack of street lighting and his experience of people “playing dares” on the road.
Michael Bell, who was a forensic investigator for Cleveland and Durham Road Policing Unit at the time but has since retired, estimated that Mr Clarke was travelling at between 45 and 51mph at the point of impact.
Mr Bell told the court that if Mr Clarke, who was 54-years-old, was travelling at 51mph he would travel around 60.41m before coming to a stop.
He said that even if he had been driving at the speed limit, which was 40mph, he wouldn’t have been able to stop in time.
Simon Hills, on behalf of Redcar and Cleveland Council, pointed out that the figure was almost four times the distance which Mr Clarke’s headlights allowed him to see in front of him.
Coroner Bailey put Mr Clarke’s comments about the road being dangerous and the lack of lighting to Mr Bell.
He replied: “Unfortunately I’m not familiar with the area at all. What I will say is that there’s no such thing as a dangerous road, it’s bad drivers which create bad statistics.
“I don’t take any issue with the road or the lighting on the road no.”
The Senior Coroner for Teesside and Hartlepool said: “On the basis of probability Mr Clarke was travelling between 45 and 51mph. I believe that Mr Clarke was mistaken in his recollection of the speed.”
The coroner said that the taxi driver could not be expected to consider the possibility of someone walking on the road and he reacted as soon as he became aware that the silhouette in front of him was a person.
The inquest heard how Mr Clarke has not been charged with any offence, following the collision.
The CPS said that they have reviewed all available evidence in the case and have advised police to take no further action against him.
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A spokesperson said: “Following the tragic death of Liam Hibbins in October 2017, the CPS were asked to consider whether any criminal charges could be brought against the driver of the vehicle involved in the fatal collision.
“After reviewing all available evidence in the case, we advised police to take no further action.”
In July 2019, the Mr Hibbins’ family made a request, under the Victims’ Right to Review scheme, to have the decision to take no further action in the case reviewed.
The CPS spokesperson said: “The case was referred to the CPS Appeals and Reviews Unit, where a different prosecutor scrutinised the evidence that informed the original decision in the case, alongside additional questions asked by Liam’s family.
“As a result of that review, the original decision was upheld and the family were subsequently informed of the reasons for this in writing alongside a response to their questions.”
The CPS said they have noted the Coroner’s finding that the driver of the vehicle was travelling at speed when he struck Liam Hibbins.
They added: “The evidence provided by the police collision investigator, who stated that this collision would have still been unavoidable had he driver been travelling at 40 miles per hour when it occurred, was also a factor considered when making our decision in this case.
“We extend our sincere sympathies to Liam’s family at what must be a difficult time for them.”
During her conclusion on Wednesday afternoon, Coroner Bailey agreed with the findings of Home Office pathologist Dr Nigel Cooper.
She said that Mr Hibbins’ had died as a result of head and neck injuries.
The coroner told the inquest: “In the circumstances, I am satisfied that Liam’s untimely death is as a result of a tragic accident.
“I will therefore be recording the conclusion that Liam has died as a result of an accident.”
She told Redcar and Cleveland Council that she thought it would be a “benefit to road users” if signs were positioned on each side of the Coast Road warning people of the risk of pedestrians.