Popular former Littleport band member who was hit by a train at a level crossing had dementia, an inquest finds

Roy Neal, pictured centre with gold braid, in the 1980s.

Roy Neal, pictured centre with gold braid, in the 1980s. - Credit: Archant

An 86 year-old grandfather-of-three who was hit by a train at a level crossing suffered from dementia and would often be found wandering in the middle of the road, an inquest heard.

Roy Neal, pictured standing with his mace, with the Littleport Band, in 1951.

Roy Neal, pictured standing with his mace, with the Littleport Band, in 1951. - Credit: Archant

Roy Neal, of City Road, Littleport, was hit by a train at the Sandhill rail crossing, near Victoria Street, at about 1.30pm on November 4.

The train, en route from Kings Lynn to London, was travelling at 55mph. The driver saw Mr Neal on the track but did not have time to react before the collision occurred.

Witness Mark Wright, who was due to meet a friend at the level crossing, said: “I clearly saw an elderly gentleman walk along the middle of the road towards the barriers.

“The lights flashed and klaxon sounded then the barriers lowered. The man went to the middle of the barriers and pushed his way through.


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“I shouted to him to stop and get back but the train came and hit him. It was like a blur. It all happened so quickly.”

Mr Neal’s wife Phyllis said she believed the most likely reason for his death was that he walked around the barrier and was not aware of the on-coming train.

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Police would often have to pick him up when he went on his wanders, she added.

Coroner William Morris, recording a conclusion of accidental death, said: “The deceased was suffering from dementia and had a history of wandering into the middle of roads. He walked on to the track.

“I would like to express my condolences to the family.”

Mr Neal served as drum-major for the Littleport Band from 1948 until the retired in the early 2000s.

He was described by band mates as a well-known and well-respected member who was a regular fixture at the front of the band’s parades for decades.

Andrew Keen, chairman of the band, said: “All parades that the band attended Roy lead the band with his trusted mace by his side. His skill for throwing the mace was fantastic and unique, this added to the bands attraction while marching.

“A lovely man whose commitment and loyalty to the band will never forgotten.”

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