A MAN was killed by a lorry just minutes after police were warned he was walking on the motorway in a drunken state, an inquest heard.

Kenneth Laidlaw died when he was hit by a HGV near the Durham Services on the A1(M) at Bowburn, near Durham City, just before midnight on October 21, 2013.

An inquest into the 29-year-old’s death, held at Crook Civic Centre today (Wednesday, February 26), heard that just ten minutes before the fatal collision a member of the public called 999 to report a man walking on the slip road towards the motorway.

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Acting Sgt Andrew Lawson, who led the police investigation into Mr Laidlaw’s death, said the woman described two cars swerving to avoid a man fitting his description.

“He was falling all over the place, laughing to himself and had his thumb up as if hitch-hiking,” said Acting Sgt Lawson.

Before that call was completed, police received a call from lorry driver Stephen Purvis to say his vehicle had hit something while travelling north on the motorway.

Mr Purvis from Consett, County Durham, had almost finished work for the day when he hit Mr Laidlaw.

He performed an emergency stop then pulled the vehicle onto the hard shoulder before calling 999 and getting out of his cab to see what he had collided with, expecting to find a deer.

“It wasn’t until I was past the back of the trailer I saw a trainer, just one trainer and that’s when I thought to myself it is a person and I lost it,” he said.

He said he saw nothing before impact except a dark object.

Acting Sgt Lawson told the hearing that Mr Laidlaw had been staying with his brother, Christopher, in Bowburn, but on the night of the accident they had fallen out and he decided to walk home to Stanley.

They had been drinking throughout that day and a post mortem revealed Mr Laidlaw had 343mg of alcohol in 100ml blood- so much it could prove fatal in itself.

Recording a verdict of accidental death, Coroner Andrew Tweddle said: “It is an offence to be walking on the motorway, it has to be said it is common sense people don’t because it is a dangerous place.

“It seems to me Mr Laidlaw’s perception of risk and danger was significantly impaired as a result of the amount of alcohol he had consumed and his behaviour and actions were probably significantly affected.”

He told Mr Purvis: “There is nothing to indicate there was anything you could have done whatsoever to have avoided the collision.”