Man cleared of girlfriend's railway death

A MAN has been cleared of causing the death of his partner by dragging her in front of a train.

Elliot Furniss

A MAN has been cleared of causing the death of his partner by dragging her in front of a train.

Darren Palmer, 39, had always denied manslaughter in connection with the death of his long-term partner Kelly Mack, 29, who died at a crossing near the Hythe Station in Colchester, in March last year.

The couple, who lived in Mendlesham Close in Clacton, had been together for 12 years and had two children.

After the verdict at Chelmsford Crown Court yesterday, Mr Palmer's younger brother Alan, 24, said the family were “delighted”.

He said: “It's the verdict that everybody wanted - 'not guilty'. It's the right verdict. It's been hard going, there's not really a lot I can say.

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“It's been really hard for me and my family - everybody has found it hard. He's found it really difficult. It's all been upsetting and he hasn't had time to grieve (for Miss Mack).”

He said he did not think the charge should ever have been made in the first place and that his brother would probably need counselling in order to deal with the events.

Miss Mack died after she was hit by a non-stopping train passing through the station at about 7.45pm on Thursday March 27 and Mr Palmer had been accused of dragging her across the track in the moments before she was struck.

She had got her boot stuck in a wooden “cattle grid” at the crossing, which had the safety barriers down, and Mr Palmer and a passer-by had managed to get her free as the train approached.

The prosecution case was that Mr Palmer had tried to drag his partner across the tracks “against her will”, leading to her death

During the trial, Mr Palmer told the court that wrongfully thinking that the train would stop was “the biggest error I will ever make”.

He told the jury of eight women and four men that he had “reached out” for his partner, but could do nothing.

Tests revealed that Miss Mack had been drinking and taking drugs in the hours before the accident and CCTV footage played in court from the day of her death showed her pushing and confronting Mr Palmer outside a Colchester shop before falling over twice.

Earlier in the day she had appeared at Colchester Magistrates' Court and during the trial, court staff told the jury she looked “dishevelled”, seemed unsteady on her feet and smelt of alcohol.

Mr Palmer, dressed in a dark suit and white shirt, showed little emotion when the verdict was read out and there were gasps from the public gallery, where members of his family and Miss Mack's family were sitting.

He made no comment as he left the court after spending 10 months in custody.

Detective Inspector Terry Pearce, of the British Transport Police, said: “This is a tragic incident in which a young mother was killed on a railway line.

“We have conducted a thorough and detailed investigation in preparing a case for prosecution.

“Kelly's death shocked the entire community and we continue to offer our sympathies to all those people who knew her.”

Eyewitness Jonathon Frere-Smith, who gave evidence during the trial, was praised for his courage by the judge, who awarded him �500 from the public purse.