Belfast Telegraph

Woman who 'suffered blackouts issued driving licence months before causing fatal road crash'

The DVLNI had issued a driving licence to a woman who suffered repeated blackouts five months before she caused a fatal car crash, a jury heard today.

Giving evidence at the Belfast Crown Court trial of 47-year-old Mary McLaughlin, her GP Dr Rosemary Kane recounted how in 2007 and again in May 2010, she had filled in a driving licence application form where it was disclosed that McLaughlin suffered from sudden bouts of fainting, giddiness or blackouts.

Five months later, on October 7 2010, Mrs McLaughlin suffered a blackout as she left the M5 in her Vauxhall Zafira but ploughed into a Ford Focus car at Hazelbank roundabout, killing rear seat passenger Rebecca McManus and seriously injuring the four other people in the car.

McLaughlin, from Dillons Avenue in Newtownabbey, denies one count of causing death by dangerous driving and four further charges of causing grievous bodily injury, also by dangerous driving.

Today Dr Kane confirmed with defence QC Philip Magee that McLaughlin had been "honest and candid" to the DVLNI when filling in the forms and also agreed that the licencing authority had other medical reports about her condition before them when deciding if she should be granted a licence.

The DVLNI, the jury heard, granted her a driving licence but it was to be reviewed every three years.

The jury also heard that despite having a licence, McLaughlin herself had chosen not to drive for around two years between 2003 and 2005.

Earlier today McLaughlin's former colleague at the Northern Trust gave evidence with Mrs Jean Carson recounting how, when she worked beside the supervising finance officer "all you would hear is the thump as she hit the floor".

She told prosecuting QC Ciaran Murphy that McLaughlin suffering blackouts was "quite a common occurrence" and that "basically she would be sitting there working one moment and the next she would be collapsed on the floor" without warning.

"I advised her that if she felt an attack coming she should get down on the floor and just wait as I was afraid of her hitting her head on the metal legs of the desk," said Mrs Carson who was the trained first aider at the office.

Under cross examination from Mr Magee, Mrs Carson agreed that while no warning was ever given to her about a blackout happening, Mrs McLaughlin may have had her own personal signs or feelings of one.

The trial continues.

Belfast Telegraph Digital


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