A lack of street lighting was a factor in the death of 31-year-old Cheryl Richards, who was hit by a car as she walked home from a party, a coroner has ruled.

Ms Richards, of Berryfield Lane, Melksham, suffered severe head injuries when she was struck by an Audi A3 at around 2.20am on September 27, 2014 on the A361 near Hilperton, and died later that day in Southmead Hospital, Bristol.

The collision happened between the Leap Gate and Ashton Road roundabouts as she walked home with her partner Simon Cook. The Audi was driven by Lee Sullivan, 23, of Spa Road, Melksham,

At the inquest in Salisbury yesterday, coroner Ian Singleton ruled that no street lighting, which had been switched off, and no reflective clothing meant there was no way of avoiding Ms Richards on the 40mph road.

He said: “Although Cheryl was walking along the road in the middle of the carriageway there is no suggestion it was done with the intention of causing harm to herself or anyone else.

“Given the lack of street lighting and that Cheryl was not wearing any reflective clothing, it would have been impossible for Mr Sullivan or any others driving on that road to steer or break to avoid her.”

The inquest heard how Ms Richards and Mr Cook had been for a drink at The New Inn Pub in Semington on the night of the accident, before both were driven into Trowbridge by a friend for a party.

The couple had an argument and didn’t attend the party, deciding instead to walk home along the A361 towards Semington.

Giving evidence at the hearing, PC Andrew Grigg from Avon and Somerset’s Collision Investigation Unit said: “There is no pavement on the road and it is designed to keep pedestrians away and use the underground paths.

“Having carried out tests we found that with dimmed head beams on an Audi A3 the distance of being able to see would have been 25 metres, while with high beams on this was 55 metres.

“With a distance of 25 metres, had anyone been driving at the speed limit of the road a collision would have been inevitable as where Cheryl was in the road any vehicle would have had insufficient time to avoid her.”

The inquest was told that Mr Sullivan had been awake for 19 and a half hours but according to PC Grigg ‘it can’t be ascertained what effect this would have had on his ability to react’.

Speaking at the hearing, Mr Cook acknowledged Ms Richards and himself had been drinking but neither were drunk and that he thought it was safe to walk on the grass verge.

A number of witnesses confirmed they had seen the couple making their way along the side of the road, with Ms Richards walking on or across the road on several occasions prior to the collision.

A toxicology report later found that Ms Richards had 139 milligrams of alcohol in her system but this could have been higher at the time of the incident.

The hearing was told that after the collision Mr Sullivan returned to the scene of the crash before driving off again and later handed himself into Melksham Police Station where he was arrested after being found to have 38 milligrams of alcohol in his breath.

Further tests showed 27 milligrams and a back test found he was likely to be 34 milligrams at the time of the crash when the legal limit is 35 milligrams.

He was later charged with failing to stop at the scene of a collision and given ten points on his licence and 200 hours community service on March 12 at by magistrates in Chippenham.

At the inquest, Mr Singleton concluded that ‘it is impossible to rule out that Mr Sullivan’s attention and reactions were not decreased by the level of alcohol in his system’.

After the inquest, Ms Richards family said in a statement: "This as a family has devastated each and everyone of us. We will never be able to get over this loss."