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Woman's death when HGV ploughed into her home 'unavoidable'

Catherine Bonner, 55, died after lorry crash in Fairlie, North Ayrshire, in 2013.

Catherine Bonner: Died at home in Fairlie.
Catherine Bonner: Died at home in Fairlie. PA

A sheriff has found nothing could have been done to prevent a driver causing a fatal crash when he blacked out at the wheel of his HGV and ploughed into a house.

Kilmarnock Sheriff Court heard how George Marshall, 57, blacked out after a coughing fit while driving through Fairlie in North Ayrshire in 2013.

The vehicle crashed into the home of Catherine Bonner, 55, who died after brickwork and masonry collapsed on her in the impact.

Her partner, Jim McColl, was badly injured in the crash.

Mr Marshall told the inquiry he was driving a fully loaded coal lorry at 30mph towards Hunterston through Fairlie on February 14th 2013.

"I started coughing," he said.

"I came round the corner and saw the house, then bang."

The inquiry previously heard Mr Marshall had suffered from cough syncope, a condition which leads to loss of consciousness during coughing.

Cardiologist Peter Bloomfield, who had examined Mr Marshall in 2014, told the inquiry it was possible to have an isolated episode of cough syncope and there was no evidence he would have a future episode.

Dr Bloomfield confirmed Mr Marshall had experienced "nothing before and nothing after".

The medic added: "It just happened to have happened and tragically it ended like this."

Mr Marshall was initially reported to the procurator fiscal for causing Ms Bonner's death by dangerous driving but the Crown Office decided against pursuing the case.

His solicitor told the inquiry Mr Marshall has expressed his sincere regret about what had happened.

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