Light switch off contributed to death of student

English and French Student Archie Wellbelove may not have been hit if the lights were switched on…

Switching off street lights contributed to the death of a student – a coroner ruled today.

The decision to turn lights off in order to cut costs was made just days before the death of Archie Wellbelove, 18, on 7 December last year.

Archie – an English and French student – was hit by a taxi on the A452 after a night out. Warwickshire County Council switched off the lighting to save half a million pounds a year.


Dr Richard Brittain, who conducted the inquest into Archie’s death, has forced the council into an early review of it’s policy.

Graham Fitton, head of transport and highways at the county council, insisted the lights policy and the speed limit on the street was appropriate.

Asked about the lights switch-off in general, he said: “If I have to save £500,000 then whatever I do will always have an impact on safety in some way.”

The court heard how Archie was three and half times over the drink drive limit when he decided to walk towards Warwick University after leaving Evolve nightclub.

A tearful Mr Ali, who was driving the taxi that hit Archie, explained how he hadn’t seen him and didn’t know  what he’d hit after hearing a loud bang on his final journey of the evening.

Mr Ali, who has driven a taxi in the area for 13 years, said: “I was used to the road being lit, that was the first time I noticed they switched the lights off. It was very dark.

“I wasn’t speeding, I was just going along and suddenly – bang! I think about it every morning, all the time.

“I have my own kid – he was just a kid.”