Heroin a factor in father’s train death, inquest concludes

PUBLISHED: 16:00 13 June 2014

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A ‘BIG-HEARTED’ father died after being hit by a train, an inquest has heard.

Antony Shane Ponting, aged 34, was killed on July 11 last year when he was struck by the train, which was travelling at around 110mph, at Springfield Road foot crossing near Highbridge and Burnham Station.

The jury at Taunton Coroners Court was told Mr Ponting’s blood samples confirmed he was under the influence of drugs, believed to include heroin, which they concluded to be a factor in his death.

Train driver Peter Roberts has been receiving counselling since the incident and had taken time off work from the shock, the inquest was told.

One of the last people to see Mr Ponting was his friend Lee Hill, of Caxton Road, Highbridge, who told the court he had seemed agitated when they met the day before his death.

He said: “He seemed quite paranoid and said he was hiding.

“He always seemed to trust me and I asked him several times what was wrong, but on this occasion he just wouldn’t tell me.”

The court heard Mr Ponting shared some of his prescription diazepam with Mr Hill at his flat before leaving, but returned at 5am and fell asleep on a sofa.

Mr Hill said: “He slept until about 4.30pm. He left soon after that, and asked me if I had a bit of citric acid and a spoon, which helps you inject heroin. I think he had one bag on him when he went.”

Mr Ponting, a keen fisherman who lived in Burnham, was known to regularly visit a private lake accessed via the Springfield Road crossing.

It is believed he was on his way to retrieve a bag from the site when he was struck by the train at 5.42pm.

Michael Edwards was stood at Highbridge station, less than 500 metres from the crossing, when the incident occurred.

He told the court: “I heard the train constantly beeping the horn and as I looked down the track I saw a person cross beforehand and another try to follow, but it hit him. He was only a few feet behind.

“They were both trying to get by before it went through, but by the time the second person went it was too late.”

Mr Ponting’s mother Patricia, who has since died, paid tribute to her son in a statement and said he had struggled battling a drug addiction for several years.

She said: “He had a big heart and he would help his friends any way he could.

“I think he took drugs to fit in, it was a recreational thing. He had several stints in prison but last came out in January 2013.

“I couldn’t say what frame of mind Shane was in when he died, but we were worried because he had stopped coming round a few weeks before.”

The jury retired briefly, concluding that Mr 
Ponting had not taken his life intentionally and the presence of drugs in his system had played a contributory factor.

Speaking after the inquest, Mr Ponting’s father Tony said: “He will be sadly missed and is now at peace with his mother.”

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