Back pain drove suicidal housewife to step in front of express train
A HOUSEWIFE suffering from chronic back pain ran out from bushes into the path of an intercity express train, stood between the track and looked up at the driver as she was mowed down, an inquest heard.
Horse lover Susan Granger had stopped seeking treatment for her injury and no longer took prescription painkillers as she felt none of it did any good.
The 49-year-old drove to a small car park, walked towards the main rail lines between London and South Wales, and hid in the bushes, waiting for a train.
Wayne Tucker, at the controls of First Great Western's 11.15am London Paddington to Cardiff service, told investigators how tragedy struck during an otherwise uneventful journey.
He had left Swindon and was preparing to reduce speed to pass over a junction where the limit was 70mph.
He said: "The track goes into a sweeping right-hand corner and the train was coasting under its own weight.
"I would shortly be applying brakes."
He sounded his horn, as required, as he approached a foot crossing. He also passed a disused, blocked pedestrian crossing.
The experienced driver said: "Suddenly I became aware of a young female emerging from the thick undergrowth."
The woman ran onto the tracks right in front of him.
"She turned to face me. She looked directly at me," he said.
"This happened so quickly. There was nothing I could do. The train hit her at 75mph."
He pressed the emergency brake but it still took the 450-ton train some time to come to a stop.
Police arrived and, on finding car keys on the woman's body, they were able to open a black Vauxhall Astra found in a small car park near the scene, close to Royal Wootton Bassett.
Inside was a handbag with Mrs Granger's details and a two-page "goodbye note" to her husband, Paul.
He was spoken to by police and explained his Penzance-born wife had loved horses and riding and had worked at a number of different stables. She even owned her own horse.
After a lifetime of good health, in 2004 she began to put herself under pressure at work and was eventually diagnosed with depression.
She left work and was briefly employed by Wiltshire Police at Marlborough Police Station but did not enjoy it.
Her health returned but she injured her back in 2007 in the stables and had to be given painkillers, despite doctors being unable to diagnose the problem. One eventually diagnosed muscle wastage, calling her back "the best back I've seen all year".
In March last year she twinged her back at work at National Trust stables.
Over the next few weeks she received acupuncture, was prescribed painkillers and her husband bought a £1,000 pound mattress, all to try to relieve her discomfort and increasing agitation.
"Her frustration resulted in her stopping taking all medication," her husband said, adding that she had also decided to stop taking advice from doctors, as it did not work.
Once again she was diagnosed with depression.
Her condition got worse and she resigned from work and ultimately refused to see people or even answer phone calls or text messages.
At 9.30pm on September 3 last year, Paul Granger left home to return to work in the Midlands. His wife saw him off and he had no concerns about what she might do.
The following day he was told of her death.
A post mortem examination revealed Mrs Granger had suffered multiple injuries to her head and body.
Claire Balysz, assistant coroner for Wiltshire and Swindon, did not read Mrs Granger's note to her husband but said: "The intentions in that note are quite clear."
Mr Granger did not attend the resumed inquest, in Salisbury.
John Wilson, appearing on behalf of British Transport Police's inquest liaison unit, said there was nothing more that train driver Mr Tucker could have done to avoid the incident, which appeared to have been a deliberate act on Mrs Granger's part.
Ms Balysz agreed, and concluded about the deceased: "The back pain was constant and limited her quality of life considerably.
"She was refusing all prescribed medication as she felt they did not help."
She concluded that Mrs Granger, of Broad Town, took her own life.