Man denies rail death manslaughter

THE boyfriend of a woman who got her Ugg-style boot caught in a wooden cattlegrid on a level crossing as a train was coming “lost his temper” and pulled her to her death, a court heard yesterday.

James Hore

THE boyfriend of a woman who got her Ugg-style boot caught in a wooden cattlegrid on a level crossing as a train was coming “lost his temper” and pulled her to her death, a court heard yesterday.

Darren Palmer, 39, is alleged to have dragged Kelly Mack, 29, “against her will” in front of the train at Hythe station in Colchester, Essex, while the safety barriers were down.

Chelmsford Crown Court heard yesterday that Miss Mack got her boot stuck in between wooden planks at the side of the track and was freed and pulled to safety by a bystander.

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But Palmer “snatched” her from her rescuer's grip and dragged her in front of a train as he tried to get to the opposite platform, the jury of eight women and four men was told.

David Etherington, prosecuting, said: “The prosecution case is that Darren Palmer dragged Kelly Mack, who was his partner, across the railway track against her will to get her to the opposite platform where they were going to catch a train to Clacton.

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“The problem is when he did this the level crossing barriers were down and a train was due to come through. The crown's case is he ignored the shouts of those present, bystanders, warning of the train's imminent arrival.

“He acted with complete disregard to the obvious danger to which he was putting them both.”

The mother-of-two was killed when she was struck by the 7.45pm on March 27 last year as the couple from Clacton were trying to catch a train home. Palmer managed to jump clear, the court heard.

The prosecution alleged that Palmer had been “selfish and incredibly dangerous”, ignoring the safety barriers before crossing to the Clacton-bound platform but his girlfriend's boot got caught in a wooden-style cattle-grid.

Mr Etherington said a bystander, Jonathan Freer-Smith , 18, rushed to free Miss Mack from the cattle-grid.

He added: “He (Freer-Smith) went onto the crossing to help Kelly Mack, he told her to 'leave her boot' to start with and got her physically to the London side of the tracks, the safe side, as the danger was coming on the Clacton side.

“Indeed had things stayed as they were, this would have taken her out of the path of the train altogether.”

“The defendant took exception to this and walked back across and snatched her from Mr Freer-Smith's grasp and dragged her to the Clacton side and right into the path of the train.

“He himself managed just to jump clear of the train but she was killed when it hit her,” he said.

Mr Etherington told the jury: “You can be sure of the following things - Darren Palmer crossed the tracks and stood on the Clacton platform when the crossing barriers were down.

“He became frustrated that Kelly Mack did not join him. He lost him temper as she had failed to come to him. He went to grab her and dragged her across the track into the path of the train.

“The prosecution case is he never looked or he would have seen what people were screaming about.

“The prosecution case will prove it was Darren Palmer's unlawful act that cost Kelly her life and that the risk of fatal collision was only too obvious and the likelihood of it happening in these circumstances was very, very high.”

The court heard Miss Mack was three times the drink drive alcohol limit and was on a cocktail of methadone and four types of Valium drugs.

Mr Etherington said Palmer may have been intoxicated too.

Palmer, who sat in the dock wearing a dark grey suit and lilac open necked shirt, denies a charge of manslaughter.

The trial, expected to last two weeks, continues.

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