Driver had 'sneezing fit' in fatal A40 crash near Clytha, Monmouthshire, court hears
Updated 10:03am Tuesday 17th June 2014 in News
A MAN charged with causing the deaths of an elderly couple by dangerous driving appeared at Newport Crown Court yesterday.
Harising Gurung, 45, is alleged to have caused the deaths of David and Mary Marshall while driving a Volkswagen Golf on the A40 near Clytha, Monmouthshire, on July 20 last year at around 9.25pm.
Gurung, of Beacons Close, Brecon, denies two counts of causing death by dangerous driving on the road towards Abergavenny from Raglan and two alternative counts of causing death by careless driving.
The defendant appeared in court with the help of an interpreter, before Judge Daniel Williams.
The jury were sworn in before Huw Evans, prosecuting, gave his opening speech.
Mr Evans told the court that it was the prosecution’s case that Gurung came up behind the Marshall’s car and started to overtake, but hit the right hand side of their car, causing their car to spin out of control before hitting a tree.
The court heard Mr Marshall, 79, a retired RAF Flight Sergeant, was pronounced dead at the scene, and his wife, 73, died four days later in hospital, as a result of the trauma caused by the impact with the tree.
The jury heard from eye witness retired army Colonel Shaun Lamb, who had overtaken the Marshalls shortly before the crash and saw the impact from his rear view mirror.
Mr Lamb said he overtook the Marshals at about 65mph and estimated they were travelling at around 55mph.
He said he was contemplating overtaking a transit van in front and was checking his mirrors when he noticed a car, going around the same speed as himself, coming up behind the small Ford car.
He described seeing the car’s sidelight for ‘a fraction of a second’ as it began to pull out before he saw the cars collide and a “cloud of dust and debris” before the Ford spun off the road into some trees.
The court heard that in his initial police interview on July 22, Gurung said he began to sneeze and simultaneously had a severe stomach cramp but decided to continue overtaking, although he was having difficulty in focusing on the road.
However, he later returned to a police station with an interpreter on November 8 and changed his statement, saying his previous statement was not correct due to his poor English and the fact he was distressed at the time.
In his new statement he said that he had already indicated and begun the manoeuvre when he started sneezing, and decided he would pull over immediately afterwards.
In the statement he said: “I was desperately trying to keep my eyes on the road.
“I had one hand on my stomach and was tightly holding the steering wheel with my other.
“I was doing all I could to control my vehicle.
“This is the last memory I have.
“I thought at the time I had hit the central reservation.”