A DEMENTIA sufferer who died after walking into the path of a car had been found wandering twice before by police – once on a busy dual carriageway.

The death of 72-year-old former licensee Raymond Harris led to changes in the way the authorities handle such cases but Nicola Jones, assistant coroner for North Wales East and Central, said even the new protocols would not have saved him.

Mr Harris, who ran the Bridge End Inn in Ruabon for many years, died in the Royal Stoke Hospital on September 16, 2015, two days after the accident on the A539 at Plas Bennion roundabout near Acrefair.

Raymond Harris

The cause of death was given as pneumonia causded by trauma.

An inquest in Ruthin yesterday heard that Benjamin Johnston was driving his Hyundai when he saw Mr Harris cross to the centre of the road, then hesitate while in the hatched area near a traffic island.

Mr Johnston slowed down, thinking the pensioner was going to wait, but then he stepped out and was thrown against the windscreen.

“I had less than a second to react,” he told police in a statement.

The inquest was told Mr Harris, of Maelor Terrace, Acrefair, had been diagnosed in 2013 with Alzheimer’s Disease and his long-term partner Florence Roberts had seen his condition deteriorating.

In liaison with Wrexham Council’s social services department and Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board’s mental health team, he was provided with a GPS tracker to enable Miss Roberts to keep check on where he went as he enjoyed walking but often became confused and disorientated.

It was believed he kept making his way back to his former home at Plas Madoc.

On August 30 he was taken home by police officers after being found walking along the A483 dual carriageway near Johnstown and the officers submitted a report to notify social services.

A similar report was issued on September 9 when he was picked up after being reported missing after leaving his GPS at home.

The inquest heard from social services officers, health officials and police officers about the notification system and how improvements carried out following a review meant there was more efficient recording and involvement of all parties after CID16 reports were received.

Rowena Spencer, Mr Harris’s key worker in the mental health team, said arrangements had been made for him to be part of the Shared Life scheme attending sessions twice a week, but he did not want to attend a day centre.

It was important that he was allowed to retain as much independence as possible and he did not meet the criteria to be sectioned under the Mental Health Act.

Consultant psychiatrist Dr Javier Rodriguez, the health board’s clinical director for mental health, said he felt the current system was more reliable but it was still a fine balance between recognising a person’s dignity and right to independence and acting in his best interests.

Asked by the assistant coroner whether any more could have been done to prevent what happened to Mr Harris, the doctor replied: “Overall I think the response from the service was appropriate.”

She recorded a conclusion of accidental death and said she did not see the need to issue a Regulation 28 report to prevent future deaths and action had already been taken .

After hearing from collision investigator Brian Growcott that a pedestrian crossing would be “desirable” at the spot where Mr Harris was hit and where there are dropped kerbs, Mrs Jones said she would be drawing it to the attention of Wrexham’s director of highways.

Shortly after his death a family spokesman said: “Raymond Harris, 72, from the Wrexham area had previously been the landlord of the Bridge End public house in Ruabon for 15 years.

“He was a loving father to Aden, Kate, Dean and Kelly Harris, along with his long-term partner Florence Roberts and her children, Debbie, Claire, Hayley, Graham and Martin, and all his dearest grandchildren.

“He was a warm and loving man who will be sadly missed, but never forgotten by us all.”

Debbie Phillips, who works at the Hampden Arms in Acrefair, regularly served Mr Harris. She added: “He was always smartly dressed in a tie and sca