BADLY lit roadworks played a key role in the death of Daventry-born professional footballer Martin Aldridge, an inquest heard.

BADLY lit roadworks played a key role in the death of Daventry-born professional footballer Martin Aldridge, an inquest heard.He died after the Peugeot 206 he was driving collided with a car travelling in the other direction with such force his car was split in two.The accident happened on January 29 last year, on the A45 dual carriageway near the Wilby roundabout, Wellingborough, as Mr Aldridge returned from Irthlingborough from a home game for Rushden and Diamonds, where he was on loan from Blackpool.A tapering line of traffic cones had been put down to block off the fast lane to allow electricity cabling work. Several witnesses told the inquest last week in Kettering they had not seen the cones until the last moment.Businessman Patrick Andrews, of Furnace Cottage, Nether Heyford, drove home along the road about half an hour ahead of Mr Aldridge. He said: I don t remember seeing any signs. If there were any they were not very adequate. Without seeing any warning for the lane closure, I was taken by surprise. I had to veer fairly rapidly to the left to get past the cones. Mr Aldridge, who was back living with his mother Anne in Daventry, was following another car in the fast lane, both trying to overtake a third car, when they reached the traffic cones at about 6.20pm on the dark, drizzly Saturday, the inquest heard.The driver in front managed to squeeze past the third car but Mr Aldridge hit the cones, span across the central reservation and collided with a car going the other way. The driver of the other car, Graham Stone, from Rushden, had both ankles broken, head injuries and a badly broken leg.Mr Aldridge was declared brain dead at the Radcliffe Infirmary in Oxford the morning after the crash. The cause of death was given as head injuries.A post mortem showed he had some alcohol in his blood but less than the drink drive limit, although coroner Anne Pember said this result may have been unreliable due to fluid treatment given to the 25-year-old. She recorded a verdict of accidental death.Senior police accident investigator PC John Spencer said, although there were adequate roadwork warning signs at intervals, they were not lit and neither were the traffic cones which should have been lined with amber road danger lamps.Another possible factor in the lead up to the crash was that Mr Aldridge had, while driving, called a friend on his mobile phone to suggest going to a party together in Northampton.His brother Peter, from Daventry, questioned several of the witnesses about the roadwork signs. After the inquest he said: We re not looking for someone to blame. But if it is found someone committed a criminal offence, they should be sentenced appropriately. Four contractors have been charged with failing to comply with highways regulations. They are Peter Fountain, of Market Deeping, who faces an additional charge of highway obstruction, Powergen Energy, Lux Traffic Controls of Malmesbury, Wiltshire, and Dewsbury Civil Engineering of Batley, Yorkshire.