Court action for councillor driver

A LEADING Suffolk figure is facing court action after the car he was driving was involved in a fatal crash that claimed the life of a church minister.

A LEADING Suffolk figure is facing court action after the car he was driving was involved in a fatal crash that claimed the life of a church minister.

An inquest yesterday heard that Suffolk County Councillor Harold Mangar was driving a Mazda 626 when it collided with the Rev Stephanie Neal as she crossed the road.

The accident happened on the main A145 close to the village hall in Shadingfield, near Beccles, at about 7.15pm on March 22 this year.

Mrs Neal, a 71-year-old widow, suffered multiple injuries after being thrown across the bonnet of the car, the inquest was told.

Mr Mangar, a Labour councillor representing the Bridge ward, confirmed he had received a court summons in relation to the crash but said the matter was in the hands of his lawyers.

Mr Mangar, of Colchester Road, Ipswich, said: “The car was driven by me and it's something that, as far as I am concerned, was an unfortunate accident.

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“The most important thing to remember is that a life has been lost and it's a tragedy to her family and friends and all who knew her. It is also something that I will never forget.”

Recording a verdict of accidental death, coroner Dr Peter Dean said that Mrs Neal was dressed in dark clothing and that Mr Mangar would not have seen her until immediately before the accident.

There was no reference to the speed the Mazda was travelling at, but Dr Dean revealed Mr Mangar, who is a well-known race relations campaigner, would be the subject of future court proceedings.

He added: “It is clear that what took place was a very tragic accident.”

The inquest at Lowestoft Magistrates' Court heard that a rector who stopped at the scene of the fatal road accident discovered that the victim was a fellow minister.

The Rev Paul Nelson was driving to a church meeting at the village hall, which was also due to be attended by Mrs Neal.

In a statement read out at the hearing, Mr Nelson told how he had to stop at the scene of the crash and discovered the victim was Mrs Neal a short time later. He identified her body at the James Paget Hospital, in Gorleston.

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