Family of Derbyshire teen hit by train feel ‘let down’ after inquest into his death ends

Mitchell Rodgers, 16, from Nether Heage, died on the evening of Saturday, March 28, when he climbed down on to the tracks when being pursued by police officers.
Mitchell Rodgers, 16, from Nether Heage, died on the evening of Saturday, March 28, when he climbed down on to the tracks when being pursued by police officers.

The family of a teenager who died when he was struck by a 100mph train say they feel “let down” as a jury reached a conclusion his death was down to misadventure.

In a statement read out following Mitchell Rodgers’ inquest, his mother Nicola Village said she and the rest of the 16-year-old’s family feel “justice has not been served” to him.

Belper train station

Belper train station

Student Mitchell, of Nether Heage, died when he was struck by an express train at Belper Railway Station.

At the time he had climbed on to the tracks while being chased by the police.

In the statement Mrs Village said: “We, as a family, would like to thank everybody that has helped and supported us.

“We do feel let down and in our opinion justice has not been served to Mitchell.

“We want to pass on our thoughts to the train driver as we appreciate this has been a difficult time for him also.

“We now ask that people respect our grieving.”

Mrs Village did not elaborate on why they felt the way they did.

The four men and four women jury took two hours to reach their decision after a coroner told them no other options were open to them legally when he sent them out to deliberate how Mitchell came about his death.

The 16-year-old, of Bentfeld Road, was being chased by police when he lowered himself onto the tracks at Belper Railway Station.

He was killed instantly when he was struck by a Newcastle to Birmingham express train, which was travelling non-stop through the station, on March 28, 2015.

After the jury reached its verdict on Wednesday, coroner Dr Robert Hunter said: “I would like to extend my condolences to Mitchell’s family and now that the inquest is over I hope you can get some closure.

“I cannot imagine what if just be like to lose a 16-year-old lad in such savage, sudden and horrendous circumstances.

“I cannot begin to imagine how you feel and I know it is not much comfort but you have heard that Mitchell would have been killed instantaneously.”

The three-day inquest at Derby Coroners’ Court heard police had approached Mitchell in the street after receiving reports of a disturbance in a flat in nearby Bridge Street, where a small party was being held.

In the 999 call, resident Ben Clark told officers a teenager named Mitchell and “about five others” were “trying to kick in my door”.

After being cautioned by officers, Mitchell ran away and was chased by PC Andrew Cocking and PC David Chambers through several streets before his death.

PC Cocking told the hearing that he did not realise Mitchell had run into a train station at first because it was dark and he did not know the area well.

Mitchell lowered himself onto the tracks and when PC Cocking saw a “big brown light” approaching he shouted “there’s a train coming - get off the tracks”.

He told the jury that he saw Mitchell trying to climb on to the platform at the opposite side of the station but it was too late.

The inquest was also told there was no way the train could have stopped in time and the impact “could not have been avoided”.

Summing up his evidence, Dr Hunter said: “Mitchell decided to run and you have heard in evidence there were eight possible routes he could have taken.

“PC Andrew Cocking, who was pursuing Mitchell, shouted ‘stop police’ but Mitchell ignored that request.

“Mitchell decided himself to lower himself from the platform and on to the tracks.

“The police could not have predicted that Mitchell would run to Belper railway station and go on to the tracks at the precise time an express train came through at 100mph.

“Therefore the legal conclusion you are only able to reach is that Mitchell died as a result of misadventure.”

In a statement which was also read out on Tuesday, train driver Brian Chiddle said he spotted a dark figure on the tracks and “immediately” applied the emergency brakes.

He said he was driving at around 100mph and, because of the bright lights of the station, he didn’t see Mitchell until he was about 100m along the platform.

PC Paul Simmons, from British Transport Police, said Mitchell would not have heard the train or felt the vibrations until it was close.

The court was told the platform at Belper Railway Station has curved, hollow edges which would have made it difficult for Mitchell to climb up.

A pathologist concluded that Mitchell died “almost instantaneously” from an extensive head injury.

In September 2015, an Independent Police Complaints Commission investigation into Mitchell’s death found there was “no case to answer for the officers involved”.

- Copy courtesy of the Derby Telegraph.