Page last updated at 13:14 GMT, Tuesday, 24 February 2009

'I was blamed for Ugg boot death'

Darren Palmer
Darren Palmer regrets crossing rail tracks when barrier was down

Darren Palmer's girlfriend Kelly Mack was hit by a train after her Ugg-style boot became trapped on a track. He was later cleared of her manslaughter.

He told the BBC Radio 5 Live's Victoria Derbyshire show of the pain of losing her - and then being accused of causing her death.

Crossing a rail track when a level crossing barrier was down was "the stupidest mistake of my life", says Darren Palmer.

The father-of-two was crossing with his partner Kelly Mack at Hythe station in Colchester in March last year.

They had both been drinking, Kelly more than Darren, and assumed trains would stop at the station despite the barrier being down, Darren says.

I'm at fault for one thing, for crossing over
Darren Palmer

He crossed, thinking Kelly was following, when a train came "out of nowhere".

Witnesses said Kelly's soft boot became trapped in the track.

He says he helped her up and moved to safety, assuming she was behind him.

"I jumped out the way of the train - I always thought maybe my partner had jumped," he said.

He was told of her death while in hospital being treated for an injury to his knee.

"I collapsed. I just broke down," he said.

FROM BBC RADIO 5 LIVE

But worse was to come. A witness claimed he had seen Darren encouraging his 29-year-old girlfriend back into the path of the oncoming train. He was charged with manslaughter.

He spent 10 months on remand and earlier this month a jury cleared him of involvement in her death.

But despite that, he feels there is still a stigma attached to him for being charged with such a crime.

"It was shocking and Kelly would have been shocked."

It has been a year since he has seen his children with Kelly - the seven and 10-year-olds live with his partner's family.

He hopes to re-establish his "close" relationship with them but does not want to push them.

"They've been told I'm responsible for their mum's death. I don't want to upset them more.

"I want to tell them it was a tragic accident. But they're so young I don't know how it's going to affect them."

Darren and Kelly were together for 12 years. Darren, of Clacton, says they were very close: "We were best friends - together 24/7."

He says the worst thing is he did not get to grieve for her before he faced the trial.

"It was harsh. I'll never get over it," he said.

"I'm at fault for one thing, for crossing over. And I have to live with that for the rest of my life."



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