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Jury out in trial of lorry drivers over fatal M1 crash

Eight people died in the collision on the southbound M1, near Milton Keynes.

A jury has been sent out to consider its verdicts in the trial of two lorry drivers who were involved in a motorway crash which left eight people dead and four seriously injured.

Fed Ex driver David Wagstaff, 54, was driving on cruise control and was on the telephone to a friend when he ploughed into a minibus at 56mph on the M1 in the early hours of August 26 last year.

He cannot remember what happened.

A jury at Reading Crown Court has heard he crashed into a minibus driven by Cyriac Joseph, who was waiting with his hazard lights on for the chance to go around a second lorry driven by Ryszard Masierak.

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M1 crash court case

When Wagstaff hit the minibus, which was taking passengers from Nottingham to London to catch a coach to Disneyland, it was forced into and under Masierak’s lorry.

Wagstaff, who had been an HGV driver for 12 years with a clean licence until the crash, has described in court that what happened was a ”lack of concentration” .

There is no evidence of him braking or trying to turn the wheel before the crash.

He has since been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.

Wagstaff, of Stoke on Trent, has pleaded guilty to eight charges of causing death by careless driving and four counts of careless driving.

Masierak and Wagstaff both deny eight counts each of causing death by dangerous driving and four counts each of causing serious injury by dangerous driving.

Masierak, 32, of Evesham, Worcestershire, faces a further eight charges of causing death by careless driving while over the prescribed alcohol limit, which he denies.

Masierak, speaking through a Polish interpreter, has described himself as a ”careful driver” despite other road users saying his driving was ”erratic”.

He told the jury he had drunk alcohol before starting his delivery shift, but said he was not drunk.

The prosecution have said that a breath test at the scene and later at a police station showed he was ”likely to have been in the region of twice the legal limit” at the time of the collision.

The court also heard that Masierak had been stationary for 12 minutes in the slow lane of the M1 that day.

Prosecutor Oliver Saxby QC has told the jury they would have to carry out an objective analysis of the manner of driving that day and whether it had been dangerous rather than careless driving.

He said: “Driving is dangerous if in any way it falls far below the standard of a careful and competent driver and exposes other road users to the danger of physical harm.”

The fatalities, six men and two women, were Mr Joseph, Panneerselvam Annamalai, Rishi Ranjeev Kumar, Vivek Baskaran, Lavanyalakshmi Seetharaman, Karthikeyan Pugalur Ramasubramanian, Subramaniyan Arachelvan and Tamilmani Arachelvan.

Four other minibus passengers, including a four-year-old girl, were seriously injured in the collision on the southbound M1, near Milton Keynes.

The hearing was adjourned to Tuesday at 10am when the jury will resume deliberations.

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