A RETIREMENT party ended in tragedy when a nurse was hit and killed by a taxi after stepping out into the road.

An inquest was told that Arlene Mitcheson received "catastrophic" head injuries after she was struck by a licensed black and yellow cab driven by Mohammed Hussain.

Ms Mitcheson, 41, had been carrying presents from a retirement party held for her partner, Newrick Clogg, when she stepped in front of the cab which was being driven along Southfield Road, Middlesbrough.

Despite efforts to revive her by paramedics at the scene and doctors at the town's James Cook University Hospital she died later from a brain injury caused by a fractured skull.

Ms Mitcheson, who worked as a nursing sister at Middlesbrough's St Luke's psychiatric hospital along with Mr Clogg, had been attending a party held at the Star and Garter pub, in Southfield Road, on November 7 last year.

The inquest, held in Middlesbrough, heard conflicting accounts from witnesses over whether Ms Mitcheson had walked or run into the road and whether she emerged from behind a parked car.

Taxi driver Mr Hussain, of Breckon Hill Road, Middlesbrough, was quizzed by police following the accident, but he was cleared of blame and no action was taken against him.

When interviewed he said Ms Mitcheson had seen him, but failed to stop and despite breaking and swerving he had collided with her.

PC Peter Hammond, a crash investigator with Cleveland Police, said Mr Hussain had not been driving at excessive speed.

Assistant Deputy Teesside Coroner Anthony Eastwood said Ms Mitcheson, of Skelton Road, Brotton, east Cleveland, had drunk considerably more than the legal limit for drivers.

Recording an accidental verdict, he said: "Whether it was a misjudgement caused by the alcohol it is difficult to say, but it is clear she did not stop when the taxi was being driven along the road."