A CORONER decided yesterday that a moment's inattention on the notorious A66 probably cost a disqualified driver his life.

Ian Coulson of Richmond, North Yorkshire, became the latest victim of a road which has been labelled among the most dangerous in Britain when his white BMW hit an oncoming HGV head-on.

But despite a note left at Mr Coulson's girlfriend's home in Scotland, coroner John Sleightholme ruled there was no real evidence to suggest the manoeuvre had been deliberate.

Lorry driver, Arthur Agar, who had been travelling towards Penrith, told yesterday's inquest at Richmond Police Station it had appeared as if no-one was at the wheel when the car ploughed into his truck - crushing the vehicle to half its original length.

Police confirmed a half-eaten chocolate bar was found on the floor of the BMW and a mobile phone on the passenger seat - which Mr Coulson may have been trying to retrieve before the fatal collision on June 28 this year.

However, investigators established he had been sitting upright just before the actual impact, braking just half a second before his car hit Mr Agar's HGV near the Ravensworth junction six miles west of Scotch Corner.

The hearing was told 46-year-old Mr Coulson - who had been banned from driving - had once before tried to take his own life by gassing himself in his car; a post mortem following his death also identified traces of carbon monoxide in his blood.

However, the pathologist indicated it would not have been sufficient to impair Mr Coulson's reactions.

Mr Sleighholme confirmed, on the morning of the day he died, Mr Coulson had also pushed a note through the door of his girlfriend's home in Scotland, expressing his regret that their stormy relationship appeared to be over.

However, a statement from Mr Coulson's partner added he had since spoken to her on his mobile 'phone and appeared more positive.

Recording a verdict of accidental death, Mr Sleightholme said: "It seems most likely there was a moment's inattention on Mr Coulson's part - and that level of inattention put him on the wrong side of the road."