Highways England could face manslaughter charges after gran killed on smart motorway

Highways England may face manslaughter charges after a grandmother was killed on a smart motorway.

A coroner investigating the death has referred Highways England to the Crown Prosecution Service to consider if manslaughter charges are appropriate.

Grandmother Nargis Begum, 62, from Sheffield, died on the M1 in South Yorkshire, near Woodhall Services, in September 2018.

She had exited a broken down Nissan Qashqai car and was waiting for help when another vehicle collided with the Nissan, causing it to plough into her.

At a pre-inquest review hearing at Doncaster Coroner’s Court on Thursday, senior coroner Nicola Mundy said the length of time the stationary vehicle went undetected was among the reasons for her decision.

Mrs Begum, a mother-of-five and grandmother-of-nine, had exited the car and was waiting for help when another vehicle collided with the Nissan, causing it plough into her, YorkshireLive reports.

A court previously heard how 16 minutes and 21 seconds elapsed between the Nissan breaking down on the smart motorway – which has no hard shoulder – and the collision.

It was a further six minutes and 15 seconds before warning signs were activated, meaning it was a total of 22 minutes and 36 seconds between the breakdown and warnings being displayed.

Speaking after the hearing on Thursday, Nargis Begum’s daughter Saima Aktar said: “While time continues to pass the feeling of grief and loss we feel over Mum’s death doesn’t disappear.

“The last two years and trying to come to terms with what happened has been incredibly difficult, especially for my dad – that he avoided injury but his loving and caring wife of 45 years died in front of him has taken its toll on him.

“We’re pleased that the coroner has taken our concerns seriously and has referred our mum’s death to the CPS.

“We’re determined to do everything we can to campaign for change and for action to be taken around the use of smart motorways.”

A spokesman for Highways England said: “Our deepest sympathies are with the family of Mrs Begum, and all those affected by this tragic incident.

“Although we do not believe Highways England has committed any offence we will of course cooperate fully in any investigation. Every road death is a tragic loss of life and we are determined to do all we can to make our roads as safe as possible.”