POLICE have refused to rule out the possibility that a young dad was accidentally stabbed to death by one of his own friends during a row, an inquest heard.

Ladi Benson, 27, died at Broomfield Hospital on November 10 after being stabbed in the chest during a confrontation in Baddow Road, Chelmsford.

Mr Benson ran the Numero 77 shoe and clothes shop in Princes Street, Westcliff, and had lived in Southend before moving to Colchester.

His inquest was held at Chelmsford Coroner’s Court today.

The court heard Mr Benson had been travelling in a Range Rover with three friends when they started arguing with a pedestrian and a man on a bike.

All six men then became involved in a fight in the street, during which Mr Benson was stabbed once in the left lung.

Det Insp Daniel Stoten, of the serious crime directorate, said the “extensive investigation” had resulted in no charges because his friends refused to co-operate.

DI Daniel Stoten, of the serious crime directorate, said the “extensive investigation” had resulted in no charges because his friends refused to cooperate.

He told the court that following the stabbing, all four had got back into the car and drove off “at high speed”.

He said: “They went down the A130, clearly desperately trying to get to hospital, through the town and to Broomfield Road.”

Although the car then ran out of petrol, the men were able to flag down two passing ambulances.

However, since then the men have failed to cooperate.

He said: “We did get cooperation from members of the public. They gave statements and attended ID parades but they didn’t pick out anyone in those parades.

“In relation to the three people in the Range Rover and the people in the road, they have not cooperated with us at all.

“They have not given any account.

“For this reason we are not able to place the murder weapon in the hands of the person responsible.”

He added: “As a senior investigating officer, I will present hypotheses as to what happens.

“One is that he was stabbed by one of the suspects in the road. There is another hypotheses that a member of his group could have had a knife and stabbed Mr Benson is error.”

Mr Benson’s father, mother, sister and partner attended the inquest.

Senior Essex coroner Caroline Beasley-Murray said she could only record an open verdict.

She said: “I have considered unlawful killing, but I would have to be sure that someone had carried out all the elements for murder or manslaughter.

“In the light of one hypothesis it’s at least a possibility that he was stabbed in error. I can’t be sure beyond reasonable doubt.

“That is the sad thing in this case. But it means the police can continue investigating.”

The cause of death was recorded as hypothalamic shock caused by a stab wound.

Two 20-year-old Chelmsford men were arrested on suspicion of murder, but in June they were told they will face no further action.