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Man 'took action to end his life' when car collided with lorry on A17 at Terrington St Clement, inquest told

The widow of a man who died in a collision near Terrington St Clement has sent her "best wishes" to those the crash impacted after an inquest into his death.

Norfolk Coroner’s Court was told earlier today (June 26) that Steven Botten, 30, of Tydd St Mary, "took action to end his life" when his car crossed into the lane of a lorry on the A17 on Monday, December 30, 2019. He died as a result of his injuries.

The inquest was told Mr Botten said he “didn’t want to live” in the weeks prior to the collision.

Steven Botten
Steven Botten

In a statement read to the court, his widow Laura Botten said he had been a “happy, cheeky and likeable person”, but she believed his “mental health was changing” in late 2019.

She told the court that the pair had met eight years previously in Lynn, and had married in 2016, but they separated in October last year, when she and their daughters left their home to live with her parents.

“From then onwards either by phone, text message or in person, Steven would have the same conversation with me, trying to get us back together,” Mrs Botten said.

The scene of the accident on the A17 at Terrington St Clement on December 30, 2019
The scene of the accident on the A17 at Terrington St Clement on December 30, 2019

The inquest heard that they had an arrangement to allow Mr Botten to have contact with their daughters.

But two weeks before the fatal collision, Mrs Botten said he began speaking about ending his life – which was “out of character”.

The inquest was told that on Monday, December 30, Mr Botten returned from work when he asked Mrs Botten to meet him in Terrington St Clement. He began sending messages saying he “didn’t see the point unless I get a chance”.

The scene of the crash on the A17 near Terrington St Clement on December 30, 2019. Picture: SUBMITTED
The scene of the crash on the A17 near Terrington St Clement on December 30, 2019. Picture: SUBMITTED

Mrs Botten said her mother had contacted the police concerned for his welfare, but it was not until later that evening that she found a voicemail from him in which he said he would “get the next one” following the sound of a lorry driving past.

The inquest also heard evidence from lorry driver Nicholas Backshall who said, in a statement read to the court, that at about 7.20pm he “suddenly saw a car’s headlights” coming towards him.

He said he steered left but there was “nothing I could do”, and the two vehicles collided.

Mr Backshall said after the impact, his lorry left the road and dipped into a ditch.

A forensic report written by PC James Hutchin found that there were no faults with either vehicle, and that there was no indication that Mr Botten’s Ford Focus had attempted to brake before the impact.

Both drivers tested negative for alcohol and drugs, he added.

In his report, PC Hutchin said dashcam footage showed the moment Mr Botten’s vehicle, travelling in the Sutton Bridge direction, crossed over into the Lynn-bound lane, in front of Mr Backshall’s lorry.

A post-mortem report by Dr Hesham ElDaly found Mr Botten’s medical cause of death to be multiple traumatic injuries as a result of a road traffic collision.

Senior coroner for Norfolk Jacqueline Lake said: “I’m satisfied from the evidence that on the balance of probabilities, Mr Botten took action to end his own life and that he intended that his actions would end his life.”

Mrs Lake added that there was “no opportunity for Mr Backshall to take any avoiding action”.

She concluded that Mr Botten took his own life.

Following the inquest, family members paid tribute to Mr Botten.

Mrs Botten said: “Steven is greatly missed. He was a good and well-liked person, but he struggled to cope with his emotions.

“Our sincere best wishes and apologies go out to everyone who was involved, assisted at the scene and has been impacted as a result of this tragedy.”

Mr Botten’s aunt, Arlette Labiche, said: “Steven was loved and will be greatly missed by his family and friends.

“He had always been known by family and friends to have a carefree and friendly nature.”

For confidential support on an emotional issue, call Samaritans on 116 123 at any time.

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