Death crash driver's 14 months of hell

A SENIOR Ipswich councillor has told of his “14 months of hell” after he was cleared of charges relating to a crash that killed a church minister.Harold Mangar, of Colchester Road, Ipswich, was driving along the A145 at Shadingfield, near Beccles, on the evening of March 22 last year when his Mazda 626 car collided with the Rev Stephanie Neal.

A SENIOR Ipswich councillor today told of his “14 months of hell” after he was cleared of charges relating to a crash that killed a church minister.

Harold Mangar, of Colchester Road, Ipswich, was driving along the A145 at Shadingfield, near Beccles, on the evening of March 22 last year when his Mazda 626 car collided with the Rev Stephanie Neal.

Mrs Neal, who was the minister for a series of north Suffolk villages, had been on her way to a meeting at Shadingfield Village Hall. She died of multiple injuries at the scene.

After being cleared, Mr Mangar, a Labour councillor for Bridge Ward in Ipswich, said: “This has been the worst 14 months of my life.”


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“My sincere condolences go to Mrs Neal's family and friends. She lost her life. I have always maintained this was a pure accident. I'm really happy to be acquitted on both charges.”

Mrs Neal's sister, Celia Richards, who was present at yesterday's hearing, also said friends and family of Mrs Neal did not blame Mr Mangar in anyway.

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She said: “We are absolutely pleased. In our view this was a tragic accident.

“The last 14 months must have been awful for Mr Mangar. We think the outcome is as it should be.

“We do not blame him at all. We think he's gone through hell.”

Yesterday Ipswich magistrates heard Mr Mangar, a Suffolk county councillor and a former member of Suffolk Police Authority, told police he was travelling at 30mph prior to the accident.

The 70-year-old also said he was on dipped headlights because he did not want to dazzle any on-coming vehicle.

Mr Mangar said he had not seen the victim, who was dressed in dark clothing and carrying a torch with a failing battery, until the moment of impact.

However, he was later charged with driving without due care and attention and speeding.

The prosecution said he should not have been driving on dipped headlights because the oncoming vehicle was too far in the distance and said police experts estimated his speed to be between 36 and 41mph.

But Mr Mangar, who denied both charges, was acquitted after a leading crash collision expert, Dr Darren Walsh, gave evidence to contradict the formula used to calculate Mr Mangar's speed, saying he was more likely to be travelling at between 28 and 32mph.

His solicitor, Geoffrey Payne, had also argued it was “perfectly proper” for the reasonable driver to have had their headlights dipped at that particular time.

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