Coroner demands that potholes are fixed on major Northamptonshire road following death of 26-year-old man

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“There is a risk that future deaths could occur unless action is taken”

A senior coroner has demanded that the authorities in charge of a major road in Northamptonshire fix its potholes following the death of a 26-year-old man.

Northamptonshire’s senior coroner, Anne Pember, has written a letter to the Chief Executive of National Highways requesting that potholes on the A5 between Potterspury and Paulerspury are fixed.

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The letter comes following the inquest into the death of Benjamin Teague in March.

Here's what the A5 looked like in February 2023.Here's what the A5 looked like in February 2023.
Here's what the A5 looked like in February 2023.

Mr Teague, aged 26, crashed his grey BMW 3 series into a blue Volkswagen ID4 at 9pm on Monday, August 2 2021 while overtaking vehicles at speeds close to 100mph on the A5 between Potterspury and Paulerspury.

The family of Mr Teague asked at the inquest if potholes on the A5 could have played a part in the death of their son, leading Ms Pember to write to National Highways.

Ms Pember wrote: “During the course of the investigation my inquiries revealed matters giving rise to concern. In my opinion there is a risk that future deaths could occur unless action is taken.In the circumstances it is my statutory duty to report to you.

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"The matters of concern are as follows: During the course of the inquest, evidence was given that the A5 between Pottersbury and Paulesbury is in a very poor state with potholes. I understand that a repair was carried out shortly after the road traffic collision but has since deteriorated. I believe that this matter should be looked at by National Highways.

“In my opinion action should be taken to prevent future deaths and I believe you have the power to take such action.”

National Highways has until May 11 to respond to the letter and must outline what action or proposed action is being taken and when.

National Highways head of performance assurance and business services, Nicole Westera, said: “Every single death on our roads is one too many and our thoughts remain with the families and friends of Benjamin Teague.

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“Safety is our top priority and we have set standards for pothole repairs on our roads. We regularly inspect our roads to ensure as far as possible that they are kept in a safe condition.

“We were aware of the deterioration of the A5 road surface in this area and completed a full carriageway survey at the end of last year to plan a programme of works. In the meantime, inspectors checked the route at least twice a week and repairs were carried out as necessary.

“Work is now under way on a seven-phase scheme carrying out resurfacing along the A5 between south Northamptonshire and Atherstone, with the section between Pottersbury and Paulesbury virtually completed.”

For information on National Highways A5 maintenance scheme, click here.

Editor’s note – Ben Teague inquest: An apologyAt the inquest touching the death of Annabelle Lovelle the report from toxicologist Paul Smith stated that at post mortem Mr Teague was found to have 80mg of alcohol/100 ml of blood and 93.5mg of cannabis/100ml of blood (Northampton Chronicle and Echo, March 8, 2023)Following the inquest of Miss Lovelle, concerns were raised about the alcohol and cannabis level found at post mortem. The coroner has informed us that Dr Smith provided addendum reports and in fact gave evidence via Zoom at the inquest touching the death of Ben Teague to apologise if he had misled the court. He gave evidence to the effect that given the period of 7 days between death and post mortem sample collection and possible disruption to the body of the deceased in the road traffic collision, it is …”possible that the ethanol measured in the post mortem blood, urine and vitreous samples has resulted from post mortem changes in whole or in part.”As regards the cannabis, Dr Smith at Ben Teague’s inquest, stated that although the post mortem concentration may not accurately reflect the ante mortem level at the time of the road traffic collision, the presence of a high level of THC in post mortem blood does indicate that the deceased had used cannabis in the hours prior to the accident.As a result, we confirm that our reporting of Ben Teague’s inquest was erroneous in that we did not accurately report the new evidence given by Dr Paul Smith.It also follows that our reporting on the coroner's Regulation 28 Report was also inaccurate as we referred to the evidence given at Annabelle Lovelle’s inquest rather than that corrected by Dr Smith at the inquest of Ben Teague.We apologise to Ben Teague's family for any distress caused.