Derbyshire teenager killed by train as he fled from police

Mitchell Rodgers.
Mitchell Rodgers.

A teenager who was hit by a train travelling at 100mph as he fled from police had been trying to pull himself back on to the platform moments before the deadly impact, an inquest has heard.

Mitchell Rodgers was killed instantly when he was struck by a train, which was travelling non-stop through Belper Railway Station, on March 28, 2015.

The 16-year-old was being chased by police when he lowered himself onto the tracks.

PC Andrew Cocking, who was pursuing Mitchell, saw a “big brown light” approaching and shouted “there’s a train coming - get off the tracks” but it was too late.

PC Cocking told Derby and Derbyshire Coroners’ Court he thinks about the “horrific” incident every day and sent his sympathies to the victim’s family.

The inquest, which began on Monday and is expected to last up to three days, heard police had approached Mitchell in the street after receiving reports of a disturbance at 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 when PC Rodgers approached in a car. He was chased by PC Cocking and PC David Chambers through several streets before his death.

PC Cocking said he didn’t realise Mitchell had run into a train station at first because it was dark and he didn’t know the area well.

Train driver Brian Chillie said in a statement read to the court that 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 the train was driving within the speed limit and applied the emergency brake around five seconds before the impact.

He said there was no way the train could have stopped in time and the impact “could not have been avoided.”

“At that speed, with each coach weighing around 34 tonnes, the train would have travelled about half a mile before coming to a stop once the emergency brakes had been applied,” he added.

He 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.

On Monday, Mitchell’s mother Nicola Village told the court her son was “not his normal self” in the days leading up to the tragedy.

The court heard he had been drinking from a “small” bottle of Jack Daniels on the night of his death.

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

The inquest continues.