Inquest into death at Bedford Bus Station

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Bedford bus station under construction 2015
Bedford bus station under construction, March 2015.

A woman pedestrian was killed when she was hit by a lorry during the redevelopment of Bedford Bus Station, a jury has heard.

Nicola Berridge, 53, from Potton Road, Biggleswade “suffered catastrophic and immediately fatal injuries” when she was struck by a DAF lorry delivering sand 8am on 13 February 2015.

Prosecutor Valerie Charbit told St Albans crown court that Cambus Limited, which trades as Stagecoach, and DJT Surfacing Limited breached their legal duty and failed to take all reasonably practicable steps to safeguard the health and safety of pedestrians.

During the redevelopment the site was frequently congested with buses and there was also a problem with contractors’ vehicles being parked within the working part of the bus station.

It was alleged Cambus failed in its duty to manage buses alongside lorries that were coming into the bus station. For DJT it is alleged that it failed in its duty to manage lorries alongside buses that were using the station.

Ms Charbit said: “The prosecution allege that each company failed to take all reasonably practicable steps to minimise the risks posed to pedestrians so that people could move safely around the bus station.”

The jury of six men and six women were told Bedford Borough Council pleaded guilty, in July last year, to breaching its duty under the Health and Safety at work act.

Read: Bedford Borough Council pleads guilty after bus station death (BBC News)

The council will be sentenced at the end of this trial.

Cambus Limited, trading as Stagecoach, and DJT Surfacing Limit have pleaded not guilty to failing to discharge a duty to non-employees under the Health and Safety at Work Act between 25 February 2013 and 14 February 2015.

Outlining the case, Ms Charbit said the redevelopment began in late January 2014 and carried on until 2015, opening on 22 March that year.

It involved the demolition of the old bus station and the construction of a new bus station with a concourse and covered outdoor public area.

On 13 February 2015 Shkelqim Llaveshi drove a DAF four axle eight-wheel HGV for a company contracted by DJT.

He arrived at Bedford Bus Staton at around 8am. He could not see anyone when he drove to the bus station and stopped, partially straddling a pedestrian crossing.

Ms Charbit said: “Not long before Mr Llaveshi and the lorry he was driving arrived at Bedford Bus Station, a lady called Nicola Berridge had got off a bus at the bus station. Another bus was parked just in front of that bus.

“Ms Berridge then walked onto the pedestrian crossing, which was partially blocked by the lorry. When walking onto the crossing she passed through a gap between two parked buses.

She then made her way across the pedestrian crossing and then moved off the crossing to step out in front of the parked lorry so she could continue to cross the bus station.

“Just before she walked in front of the lorry, the bus which she had got off began to pull out.

“Around the same time Mr Llaveshi in the lorry, checked his mirrors and in moving forward slowly he ran her over.

“He did not see Ms Berridge, mostly likely because she was outside his field of vision.”

She suffered “catastrophic and immediately fatal injuries.”

Mr Llaveshi has not been prosecuted, the jury was told.

The case continues.