A SUSPECTED heart problem could have caused a decorated soldier to crash his motorbike, a coroner ruled yesterday.

Warrant Officer Class Two Wayne Cuckson was riding his 1000cc Suzuki GSX when he slid into oncoming traffic on a bend and collided with a Fiat Punto in Fox Lane, Wootton, near Abingdon.

The 44-year-old, from Willow Tree Close, Shippon, near Abingdon, was awarded the Queen’s Gallantry Medal after freeing a wounded police officer from a helicopter shot down by the IRA in Northern Ireland in 1994.

WO2 Cuckson, who was married with a daughter, had been suffering from heart palpitations before the crash on April 6 and had been advised not to drive, an inquest at Oxfordshire Coroner’s Court heard yesterday.

Coroner Nicholas Gardiner recorded a verdict of accidental death and said “the loss of control (of the bike) is likely to have been the consequence of a cardiac event”.

Mr Gardiner said: “It’s quite clear that Mr Cuckson lost control of his motorcycle, colliding with a car. What is less clear is why he lost control.

“He doesn’t appear to have been travelling at a greatly excessive speed and this incident doesn’t add up in terms of his going too fast or braking inappropriately.”

WO Cuckson had served in the army for 22 years and was with 12 Logistic Support Regiment at Dalton Barracks, Abingdon, at the time of his death.

Pathologist Dr Ben Philips said the soldier, who had been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder in 1990, was being investigated for a potential cardiomyopathy at the time of his death and had been advised not drive due to the potential for him to suffer blackouts.

The court heard the driver of the Punto, Philip Hickman, was travelling below the speed limit and had no chance of avoiding the collision.

In a statement read to the hearing, Philip Radbourne of the Prince of Wales pub, in Shippon, said WO2 Cuckson had popped in for an orange juice on the afternoon of his death and the pair had discussed plans for a “boys’ weekend away” in Devon the following month.

He said: “Wayne will be sorely missed and will leave a great hole, not only in my life but in the lives of my customers.

Speaking after the inquest, WO2 Cuckson’s widow Wendy said: “We still cannot believe he’s gone.

“We really miss him. He was the life and soul of the party.

“It’s just hard for him to be gone. He was a big part of our lives.”