A UNIVERSITY graduate was knocked down and killed by a commuter who 'gambled on an amber light' at roadworks as he sped home during the evening rush hour, a court heard today.

Helena Thurm, 25, was walking home from a job interview when she was hit by Glenn Wall's Vauxhall Astra car as she crossed a busy road junction.

The former grammar school pupil was thrown into the air by the force of the impact and suffered multiple injuries including a 'catastrophic' brain injury. She died the following day in hospital.

Office worker Wall, 35, had been just a mile from home when he undertook another driver before speeding through the amber light on the A56 Manchester Road, Timperley, at up to 36mph, it was claimed.

He been driving in a lane that had been sign-posted for left hand turns only - yet he continued straight forward and struck Helena, who believed it had been safe to cross, Manchester Crown Court heard.

Wall later claimed Helena was on her mobile phone at the time of the collision - but examinations showed the device was not being used at the time of the impact.

The tragedy occurred on June 20 last year after Miss Thurm, a former pupil at Altrincham Grammar School for Girls who graduated in public relations and digital communications at Manchester Metropolitan University, had attended a job interview at a fashion retailer in the city.

Rob Hall, prosecuting, said: "Afterwards she phoned her boyfriend and they chatted about how the interview had gone.

"She had some spare time so went shopping at the Arndale Centre and got her hair cut. By 5pm she was getting a tram to get back to Timperley.

"On the way out of Manchester she phoned her father and mother to tell them how the interview went and discussed arrangements for that evening but that would turn out to be their last conversation with their daughter.''

Wall, who worked at an office 25 miles away in Rochdale had been on his way home to Altrincham when he encountered the roadworks on the A56 Manchester Road at 6.08pm.

Mr Hall added: ''In September 2105 a company had been contracted to undertake junction improvement works at the junction. Those works were there to improve the state of that junction and were due to remain for about 48 weeks.

"Those works meant that vehicles using the left hand lane would only be expected to turn left and vehicles were not permitted to turn right. The speed limit in that area at the time was 30mph.

''A witness had been travelling in the right hand lane and as he approached the traffic lights he noted that the lights were changing to amber so he stopped. But this defendant who was in the left hand lane did not take the same approach and he didn't slow.

"His response was to see that as an opportunity to get in front of the witness and he undertook his car and drove straight across the traffic lights where Helena Thurm was crossing - and where she had been waiting for some time.

"When she saw this defendant approaching in a left only lane she would have been entitled to think he would not be travelling straight onwards. But he went straight across the cross roads and drove straight through her throwing her into the air causing multiple injuries including a catastrophic brain injury.

"An expert investigator estimated the speed of the vehicle at between 30 to 36mph so excess speed was a factor in this case. The defendant was essentially gambling on an amber light.

''It was immediately apparent that Helena was seriously injured. Everything that could be done for her was done but she was pronounced dead the following day.''

Mr Hall added: "In Mr Wall's first conversation with police, he claimed he went through the traffic light on Amber at 30mph and that Helena was holding her phone but the phone did not show any use at the time of the collision.

"He was later formally interviewed by police and he had driven that route for the eight years he had worked for that company. He was travelling in the left hand lane which in his mind was intended for people travelling straight or turning left.

''He said he had not seen any signs stating the change in lane and they must have been added after the collision.

"He said he didn't want to perform an emergency stop and so carried on through the lights. He said he tried to swerve when he saw Helena but that he could not."

Giving evidence, Helena's mother Sandra Thurm, 64, told the court: "Helena was the middle child and had two brothers and was living at the family home. She didn't have any problems with her eye sight and crossed that road nearly every day, sometimes twice a day.

"She had studied at Altrincham Grammar School for girls before attending Manchester Metropolitan university where she had graduated in public relations and digital communications. She wanted to go into marketing.

"On June 20 we saw Helena that morning, about 8.30am before we left for a family funeral in Wales.

''We knew that she had a job interview in the northern part of Manchester City Centre. At about 5.10pm she called to discuss how it went and that she was on her way home."

Wall denies causing death by dangerous driving and an alternative charge of causing death by careless driving. The trial continues.