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Coroner questions events leading to the death of Odiham teenager
A CORONER has questioned events that took place after a young man lost his life on an Odiham road.
North East Hampshire Coroner Andrew Bradley was conducting an inquest into the death of Jack Bland, 19, of London Road, Odiham.
Mr Bland, right, died after he was hit by a car in the early hours of September 11 last year as he walked along the A287 near the Broad Oak roundabout.
The car that hit him was driven by another 19-year-old from Odiham – Henry Stangroom, of Rye Common.
As reported in The Gazettte, in July Mr Stangroom pleaded guilty to dangerous driving and was sentenced to eight months in prison, suspended for 18 months.
The court had heard that Mr Stangroom could not be blamed for the accident but committed the dangerous driving offence by driving on after the crash with a badly-damaged windscreen.
Mr Stangroom appeared as a witness at the inquest, which was held in Alton. Also present were Mr Bland’s parents Tim and Lorraine, and his brother Josh.
Peter Martin, who represented Mr Stangroom, said his client would not say anything to further incriminate himself. Instead, Mr Bradley took Mr Stangroom through the statement that he made to police, in which he said he thought he had hit a deer.
Mr Bradley said: “What happens (after the crash) is perhaps slightly testing. What has been said to me is that he turned around at the roundabout and found nothing in the road. One might question that, but, that is the evidence given.”
Mr Stangroom also said in his statement that he had not been over the drink-drive limit when he drove, and that he had been trying to get to a kebab van with his friend Oliver Mason when the accident took place.
The inquest also heard how in the hours before the accident, Mr Bland had been at his next door neighbour’s wedding, in Winchfield House, before heading to a friend’s 21st birthday party at Bowenhurst Golf Club, near Crondall.
Teddy Barcham, a close friend of Mr Bland, said he tried to kiss her at the party, but she said she did not want to be in a relationship with him.
She said: “I would not describe him as being angry or upset or anything like that. I did not really know how he felt.”
Friend Kurt Dennis told the inquest that Mr Bland went missing just before he was due to get a taxi home, but he added this was not unusual.
Malcolm Dowds, a taxi driver, found Mr Bland lying on the A287, the inquest heard. The young man was still alive but had suffered severe head injuries in the crash. He died later that day.
Crash investigator PC Drew McDonnell said Mr Stangroom would have had less than a second to react to seeing Mr Bland walking in the road, and said the result was “tragically inevitable”.
Mr Bradley recorded a verdict of accidental death, and said an impact was likely to happen as Mr Bland was walking along the road in the dark.
He said: “I cannot put it any other way. I am not sure what Jack was doing but it was not terribly wise.”