Date: 15 Jan 1957
Place: Old Sarum, Salisbury
Brian Goodier was run over at an airfield where he was based and taken to the Salisbury Infirmary where he later died on 15 January 1957.
He had lived at 6 Emmett Street, Barnton, Northwich and was a paratrooper at an RAF base in Salisbury where he was serving in the Army Air Training Development Centre.
He had been walking with some other soldiers along the main road at that RAF base near Old Sarum when he was hit from behind by an Army Landrover.
He suffered from multiple injuries, including a ruptured liver and contusions of the brain.
A private that had been riding in the in the front seat of the Landrover said that he had seen some soldiers walking ahead of them, going in the same direction, and that the driver sounded his horn and said that he was going to give the soldiers a lift. He said that the driver then slackened his speed and that the men in the road moved to the side of the road and that he noticed nothing more until the windscreen shattered.
However, when the private gave his evidence at the inquest, the Coroner said, 'Let us have it quite plainly once and for all. I don't think the jury will believe that you could sit in front of a vehicle and see our men walking along in the road and take no notice when one is hit. Now let us have it straight'.
The private then said, 'I thought there was plenty of room, so I didn't take any notice of them, sir. I was not looking at the men. I felt a bang and then we stopped and finally I went back and saw Private Goodier'.
He noted that there was a speed limit through the camp, which was 20mph and acknowledged that they were exceeding it and going about 20mph.
Another soldier that had been based at Old Sarum said that he had been walking along behind Brian Goodier, who he said was about a foot to his nearside, when he heard a horn. He said that when he looked around he saw the Landrover about twenty yards away and that he then stopped walking and followed the vehicle with his eyes as it went past. However, he said that he didn't see it hit Brian Goodier, but said that he next noticed Brian Goodier spinning off the side of it.
After hearing the privates evidence he said, 'You must have seen what happened?'.
The private then said, 'I followed the vehicle pst but my eyes were on the back of it. I heard a bump and I immediately looked forward and saw Goodier spinning off the vehicle. I o not know how the vehicle hit him'.
After the Coroner asked the private some more questioned he said, 'You are not trying at all'.
After hearing the evidence, the Coroner turned to the AATDC and said, 'There is only one thing which must be done in these cases, major, and that is that every man who has seen an accident must be put into confinement until he has been questioned. It is quite obvious that these men must have seen the whole of this and between then and the time they were questioned, they must have put together this story that they didn't see anything. It is no good a soldier or a private man or anyone coming forward and saying when a man is hit as hard as this one was and is killed three yards in front of them that they never saw what happened. It is trying our credulity beyond bounds'.
The coroner then turned back to the private and asked him, 'Have you any consideration for the poor fellow who was killed?' and the private replied, 'Yes, sir'.
The Coroner then said, 'Then come on tell me the story then. Didn't you see him hit?' to which the private replied, 'No, sir'. He then added that when the horn blew that Brian Goodier didn't move either to the left or the right.
When he was further questioned he said that he remembered seeing Brian Goodier spinning like a top and said that he then went end over end.
He then estimated the speed of the vehicle to have been between 25mph and 30mph.
Another private that had been with the group of soldiers said that when he heard the horn of the Landrover blow he and another private got onto the verge and the vehicle went by, but that he didn't take any notice of it and did not see it his Brian Goodier. However, he did say that there was no reason for it to have come as close as it did as there was nothing else in the road.
A warrant officer with the RAF who had been cycling down the road said that he had seen the men straggling along the road, noting that they were all on the left hand side and that the first thing that he knew of the Landrover was when it blew its horn and said that when he looked back to the road the accident had already happened.
When the driver was asked why he had blown his horn he said, 'I was pulling up to give the soldiers a lift'.
When the driver gave evidence at the inquest, after being given the usual caution about answering any questions that might incriminate him, he said that he had taken over the vehicle from the duty driver and that as he was going along the road he saw four lads in front of him and sounded his horn to get them to move into the side of the road which they did. He said that it was his intention to pick them up and give them a lift to M/T, adding, 'When I thought I was past the men I pulled right into the side and then I felt a bang on the side and the windscreen was shattered. I didn't see anything, and I thought I had hit the branches of a tree. I pulled up as quickly as I could and then went back and found Private Goodier'.
When he was questioned at the inquest, he said that his speed was normal, but that he was not looking at the clock as he was looking at the lads, and added that his speed might have been over or under 20mph. He said that he thought that he had given the men a couple of feet clearance.
When the Coroner asked him, 'Did you realise you were giving Goodier such little clearance and that in fact you caught him?' the driver said, 'I didn't see him, I thought I was past him. I thought they were all in one bunch'.
He added that he remembered glancing in the mirror to look at his rear as he passed the men and that in doing so thought that it was possible that he might had missed seeing Brian Goodier in doing so.
A policeman that examined the Landrover said that he found that the windscreen of the Landrover had been shattered on the nearside and that it also appeared to have had a severe blow on the nearside pillar.
When the Coroner summed up he said that whenever they had a Service accident that no one in the Service ever seemed to see anything whatever, which was critical.
He added, 'I think the only thing for the officers in charge of these cases to do is from the moment there is an accident to separate every witness and take a statement from them before they are able not to remember anything'.
When the Coroner summed up he said that he difficulty was in finding whether or not there was sufficient evidence of criminal negligence, noting that that was where the witnesses were helping the driver. He said that his own view was that he jury had hardly sufficient evidence for that, but said that he thought that they had sufficient evidence to say that Brian Goodier died from multiple injuries sustained when he was struck by a motor vehicle driven by the driver that was at the inquest, but that there was not sufficient evidence to say whether it was manslaughter or not or an accident ad concluded that he thought that the verdict should be left open so that the authorities could take further action if they thought it should be taken.
Brian Goodier was on the Monday 21 January 1957. The service was held at Mount Tabor Chrch and a good number of mourners attended, all of whom were names in the Winsford Chronicle on Saturday 19 January 1957.
see Winsford Chronicle - Saturday 26 January 1957
see Winsford Chronicle - Saturday 19 January 1957