Glasgow & West Scotland

Student road deaths inquiry hears driver was 'unresponsive'

Mhairi Convy and Laura Stewart Image copyright Other
Image caption Mhairi Convy (left) and Laura Stewart were both students at the former Glasgow College of Commerce

A fatal accident inquiry (FAI) into the deaths of two students hit by a car in Glasgow has heard the driver was unresponsive after the collision.

William Payne was driving his Range Rover down North Hanover street in December 2010 when he collided with Mhairi Convy and Laura Stewart.

Mark Hopwood, 36, was also thrown on to the road in the incident but survived.

Eye witness Gary McGinley was among those giving evidence at the first day of the FAI at Glasgow Sheriff Court.

He said came out of the car park at John Lewis further down the road and was at traffic lights when he saw Mr Payne's vehicle approaching him in the opposite carriageway.

Mr McGinley said: "My initial thought was the speed the vehicle was travelling."

He added: "I thought it was a ridiculous speed to be travelling in the inside lane."

'Bit of a frenzy'

The witness said he realised it wasn't the inside lane the car was driving on, but the pavement with the "engine revving".

Asked by procurator fiscal depute Jim Graham what he saw when it came down the pavement he said: "There was a collision once he came down to the traffic light area."

Mr Graham asked if he saw anyone being hit and he said he did.

He told the inquiry: "It was a bit of a frenzy. I know after the event when I stopped the car there was three pedestrians struck but at the time it was hard to distinguish how many there was."

Mr McGinley said he went to see the girls on the ground, then the driver of the car, before going to Mr Hopwood.

He said: "I ran over to the driver, he was just facing ahead, pan faced, eyes fixed."

He said: "I asked 'you okay, you okay pal?' No response from him. He looked physically okay, he was sitting back in the vehicle and the window was open."

The court also heard from Mark Hopwood who was hit by Mr Payne's car during the collision.

Mr Graham asked him what happened when he crossed the road on North Hanover Street. He said: "That's when I noticed the car on the pavement heading towards me."

He said: "As I was turning away I'm assuming the front side hit me, from what I've worked out."

Mr Hopwood said the car was travelling at about 50 or 60mph before hitting a grass verge.

Although he didn't see the car hit anyone else he said he saw someone else lying on the road.

'Very pale'

Another witness, Darren Bell, who saw the collision said he saw one person "up in the air" who landed in the middle of the pedestrian crossing, another who was "dragged" and further away was a man lying on the ground.

John Hutchison, 65, who also was at the scene said he turned off the engine in the Range Rover as the car was against a pole at an angle with the wheels still turning.

He said he heard Mr Payne say "I'm not well" when a police officer had arrived at the car.

Pc Dawn Lindsay, who spoke to Mr Payne after the incident, said he told her he had slipped that morning.

She also told the hearing he said he had suffered blackouts dating back to 2007.

PC Gary O'Donnell also gave evidence. He said he spoke with Mr Payne after the incident when he was in his car and at the hospital.

He described him as "very pale" and "ashen".

He also told the inquiry Mr Payne said he had fallen earlier that day, and had suffered from blackouts back in 2007.

The officer said Mr Payne said he had been treated in 2007 at Stobhill hospital for blackouts and it was put down to a viral infection.

The hearing before Sheriff Andrew Normand continues.

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