Barnsley crash victim was about to start 'new life' with partner

A woman who died after a crash in Barnsley had been about to start a ‘new life’ with her partner, an inquest heard.

Monday, 26th August 2019, 11:48 am

Maureen Gleeson and her sister Eileen Cross were heading back from a family day out when the car veered off the carriageway and into a lamppost, which collapsed onto the roof of the vehicle, on Burton Road in Monk Bretton.

Ms Gleeson, a 50-year-old retired senior Post Office manager, who was born and lived for much of her life in Barnsley but had recently moved to Scotland, died the next day at Sheffield’s Northern General Hospital.

Sheffield Coroner’s Court today heard how Ms Cross, who was driving when the crash happened on the afternoon of August 8 last year, became distracted when her sister ‘curled up’ in pain as the bowel complaint from which she had suffered for most of her adult life flared up.

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A coroner concluded that although the crash probably contributed to Ms Gleeson’s death, the severity of her bowel disease and other medical conditions meant she may well have died anyway.

A heartbreaking statement from Ms Gleeson’s partner Ian Duguid, which was read out in court, told how the couple had first met in 1998 in Scotland, where he was stationed with the RAF and she was working as a postmistress.

Romance blossomed after they reconnected 17 years later, having both divorced, and he said it was immediately ‘very clear we wanted to be together’.

In 2017, they decided to move to Lossiemouth in northern Scotland to start a ‘new life’ together and they had spent their first week last summer in what was to be their new home there when Ms Gleeson headed back south to visit her family and get the results of medical tests she had been undergoing in Yorkshire.

Mr Duguid told how Ms Gleeson had been in ‘constant pain’ in recent years due to her failing health, but was ‘very much a soldier’ who would never complain and ‘refused to be beaten by her condition.

“The last few years we’d been together were some of the happiest years I’ve ever experienced,” he said.

He added that he attached no blame to Ms Cross for her sister’s death, saying: “I want Eileen to be able to move on with her life knowing she was loved dearly by her sister.”

The inquest heard how Ms Gleeson had suffered from Crohn’s disease, which causes inflammation of the bowel; a severe lung condition; and heart disease.

PC James Durkin and Andrew Oversby, from the serious collision investigation unit, both told how the evidence suggested Ms Cross had been distracted due to the pain her sister was experiencing, leading her to lose control and crash.

Assistant coroner Katy Dickinson recorded the cause of death as peritonitis, an infection of the abdomen which was caused by a perforation of the bowel resulting from the collision, with Ms Gleeson’s underlying health conditions listed as contributory factors.

Recording a narrative conclusion, she said: “Maureen Gleeson died on August 9, 2018, following involvement in a road traffic collision.

“It’s clear, however, that Ms Gleeson had underlying medical problems which could have caused her death irrespective of the collision.”