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Man guilty over runaway van deaths

A man whose runaway van killed two people after he failed to apply the hand brake properly when he parked has been found guilty of causing death by careless driving.

David Smith, 24, and Claudia Kauert, 30, were hit by the driverless vehicle as it rolled down a sloping street in the City of London on April 24 last year.

Van driver Larkland May, 52, who delivers office stationery, had parked on Pudding Lane - a road with an incline of about 5% - to drop off a parcel at nearby Peninsula House.

When the driver of another vehicle unwittingly made contact with the van, it rolled away and struck the two pedestrians one after the other.

After a one-week trial at Southwark Crown Court in London, May was convicted of two counts of causing death by careless driving, a court official said.

Judge Geoffrey Rivlin QC instructed jurors to acquit the van driver of two alternative counts of manslaughter earlier this week.

May, of Edmonton, north London, had denied all charges.

The incident occurred on a busy Friday lunchtime when the van was knocked by a Saab driven by a BBC cameraman making a documentary about poet TS Eliot.

As it moved downhill, it gathered speed and mounted the pavement, where it struck temporary Lloyds TSB employee Mr Smith and German national Ms Kauert.

May had been working for stationery company Lyreco since May 2008 and was regarded as a good employee. He will be sentenced on October 1.

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