THE lawyer representing a decorated soldier accused of causing the death of a retired RAF Flight Sergeant and his wife on a dual carriageway said it could have been a “terrible accident”.

Defence barrister, Malcolm Galloway, was addressing a jury yesterday in the case of a fatal A40 crash in Monmouthshire said to have been triggered by a sneezing fit.

His client Harising Gurung, 45, a former Company Sergeant Major with the Gurkha Rifles, collided with the elderly couple’s Ford Ka, which spun out of control and hit a tree, a court heard.

Its occupants, David Marshall, 79, and his wife Mary, 73, died following the crash on Sunday, July 20, last year, Newport Crown Court was told.

Gurung, of Beacons Close, Brecon, denies two counts of causing death by dangerous driving near Clytha and two alternative counts of causing death by careless driving.

Addressing the jury, Mr Galloway stressed that it was for the prosecution to prove that his client had been responsible for the Marshalls’ deaths.

He reminded the jurors that expert evidence given by Cardiff University Professor Ronald Eccles showed that his client would have been distracted if he did have a sneezing fit.

He also suggested that if they accepted the sneezing fit account was true, then it was a “terrible accident” and he must not be criminally responsible for it.

He told the jury: “It is a fact of life. Accidents do happen on our roads. People get hurt or unfortunately people die.”

Earlier in the trial the court heard how A40 motorist Shaun Lamb saw an indicator light on Gurung’s car for a fraction of a second before the crash.

But Huw Evans, for the prosecution, argued it was in fact a hazard light which had been triggered by the collision.

The court heard that the sneezing fit – said to have included around four sneezes – could have lasted for 12 seconds, and if Gurung was doing 70mph, he would have travelled about a quarter of a mile.

Mr Evans said that if he had had a fit after starting the overtaking manoeuvre, his car would have been further to the right of the Marshalls’ vehicle at the time of impact.