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'Bench lady' was killed as she tried to cross road, inquest hears

Tributes left at the scene at Melford Road, Sudbury, in November, after the crash which claimed the life of pedestrian Kathleen Butcher Picture: GREGG BROWN

Tributes left at the scene at Melford Road, Sudbury, in November, after the crash which claimed the life of pedestrian Kathleen Butcher Picture: GREGG BROWN

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A well-known elderly lady in Sudbury died after being hit by a car as she crossed the road, an inquest heard.

The former Walnuttree Hospital in Sudbury Picture: ANDY ABBOTTThe former Walnuttree Hospital in Sudbury Picture: ANDY ABBOTT

Kathleen Butcher, of St Bartholomews Lane, was pronounced dead at the scene following the incident on the A131 Melford Road on November 6 last year.

Miss Butcher would often cross the road to read a newspaper on a bench on Melford Road and was known by some in the community as the “bench lady”.

The 86-year-old worked as a pathology technician at the former Walnuttree Hospital in Sudbury from the 1950s to 1980s.

Suffolk Coroner’s Court heard today that Miss Butcher, who walked with a pronounced stoop, was wearing dark clothing on the day of the collision and was hard of hearing.

The driver of a black Vauxhall Corsa, which was involved in the collision, said she did not see Miss Butcher until she was a foot from her car, and that she “just seemed to appear”.

There was no trace of drugs or alcohol in the driver’s system and she was not using her mobile phone, the inquest heard.

The driver was not speeding and may have even been going below the 30mph limit at the time of the incident.

Pc Jeff Cribb, of the Serious Collision Investigation Team at Suffolk police, said there was a defect on one of the tyres of the Vauxhall Corsa, which would have caused it to fail an MOT.

But the officer said that this “would not have affected the performance of the car for the purpose of this incident”.

No charges were brought against the driver.

Several witnesses to incident mentioned the low level of street lighting on Melford Road at the time of the collision.

After further investigation, Pc Cribb and colleagues concluded that the street lights did not provide enough lighting to see a pedestrian in those circumstances.

Nigel Parsley, Suffolk senior coroner, said he would explore the findings made by the officers and contact Richard Webster, Suffolk County Council’s street lighting manager, to discuss the matter further.

The cause of death was recorded by the coroner as multiple injuries as a result of the road traffic collision.

Mr Parsley also passed his condolences to the family and friends of Miss Butcher.

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