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Inquest into death of cabbie killed by falling masonry

The inquest has begun into the death of a woman whose taxi was crushed by falling masonry from a building in High Holborn.

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Cabbie's widow wanted her to stay off work

The widower of a taxi driver killed on Valentine's Day by falling building debris asked her to stay off work because of high winds - but she refused so she could buy him a birthday present. Mother-of-three Julie Sillitoe, 49, was killed when large pieces of masonry fell from a building in High Holborn, crushing her. Her two passengers narrowly escaped with their lives after the chunks of cement fell just centimetres from their heads, an inquest has heard.

Workmen clear debris at the scene in Kingsway, opposite Holborn Tube station Credit: Anthony Devlin/PA

Her widower, security consultant Steve Sillitoe, told St Pancras Coroner's Court, how he pleaded with his wife not to go to work because of the bad weather. But she shrugged off his concerns and went out to work as normal at around 8pm. He said: "She came up and said 'I'm going to go to work now'. It was very windy outside, it was bad weather. I said to her 'Do you have to go to work? Why don't you take the night off?' "She said 'I have to go to work, I have to buy your birthday present'."

The scene in High Holborn Credit: Anthony Devlin/PA Wire

That night she picked up a young couple in her taxi at Gordon Ramsay's restaurant Bread Street Kitchen in the City. But as they drove through High Holborn shortly after 11pm masonry large pieces of cement fell from a building, crushing her Skoda Octavia. Ms Sillitoe, from Finsbury in north London, had to be cut from the wreckage but attempts to resuscitate her failed and she died at the scene.

Julie Sillitoe died when masonry fell on her car during high winds Credit: Metropolitan Police

"She was extremely family orientated - with her granddaughter and her sons. Shortly before she learnt that (her son) Ben's partner was pregnant again with a girl, which she was overjoyed at ... It is a number of months since Julie was killed, and every single day I miss her very much."

– Steve Sillitoe, speaking at the inquest into his wife's death

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