"Have I killed someone?" asks blackout fatal crash driver


'Have I killed someone?' asks blackout fatal crash driver

A blackout sufferer who caused a fatal collision knew it was unsafe for her to be driving despite being granted a driving licence, a court has heard.

In October 2010 47-year-old Mary McLaughlin suffered a blackout behind the wheel of her Vauxhall Zafira. She ploughed into the back of a Ford Focus after failing to stop at a roundabout on the M5, killing 26-year-old student Rebecca McManus.

McLaughlin told police she had been in the outside lane of the motorway, doing around 60-65mph, when she felt the start of the blackout and tried to get to the hard shoulder.

Witnesses told the court they saw her slumped in her seat, with her head down and eyes closed, just before the crash. Prosecutors claimed a panicked McLaughlin asked witnesses at the scene "have I killed someone?"

The driver and other passengers of the Ford Focus hit in the crash suffered serious injuries, with McManus pronounced dead at the scene.

The trial heard how McLaughlin, of Newtownabbey, medically retired from her role as a finance officer in a hospital after suffering from around 50 blackouts. Colleagues stated "she could black out with no warning at all."

Ms McLaughlin denies one count of causing death by dangerous driving and four further charges of causing grievous bodily injury by dangerous driving.

The court has heard she was issued a licence by the DVLNI just five months before the crash, despite disclosing that she suffered from sudden bouts of fainting, giddiness or blackouts.

Her GP stated she had been "honest and candid" when filling in forms, but the court also heard that McLaughlin herself had chosen not to drive for around two years between 2003 and 2005.

The trial at Belfast's Laganside Crown Court continues.