Lorry drivers jailed over fatal M1 crash

Image caption,
Two lorries and a minibus were involved in the crash on the M1 near Newport Pagnell in August

Two lorry drivers have been jailed over a crash on the M1 in Buckinghamshire that killed eight people last year.

Ryszard Masierak, 31, was jailed for 14 years after being found guilty of causing death by dangerous driving.

David Wagstaff, 54, was sentenced to 40 months in prison after pleading guilty to causing death by careless driving.

Eight people died when the minibus they were travelling in was hit by Wagstaff and shunted into Masierak's lorry, which had stopped on the inside lane.

Judge Francis Sheridan said the crash was the most serious in the UK for more than 26 years.

'No remorse'

Sentencing the pair at Aylesbury Crown Court, Judge Sheridan described Masierak as a "persistent, unmitigated, if not very accomplished liar" who had shown "no remorse".

"What you have tried to do is blame everyone and everybody except yourself," he told him.

The trial heard Masierak, of Barnards Close, Evesham, Worcestershire, was twice the drink-drive limit and had stopped on the inside lane near Newport Pagnell for 12 minutes before the crash on 26 August.

The AIM Logistics driver admitted he had consumed alcohol but said he stopped because he was sweating, felt weak and had a headache.

Image source, Thames Valley Police
Image caption,
Ryszard Masierak and David Wagstaff were sentenced at Aylesbury Crown Court

After the verdicts, it was revealed Masierak's professional driving licence had been revoked prior to the crash.

At today's sentencing, the Polish national was told he could face deportation on his release from prison.

Minibus driver Cyriac Joseph was waiting with his hazard lights on to go around Masierak's lorry when Fed Ex driver Wagstaff ploughed into the back of the van forcing it into and under Masierak's vehicle.

Wagstaff, of Derwent Street, Stoke-on-Trent, had been on a hands-free call for an hour at the time of impact and the trial heard he did not brake before crashing into the minibus at 56mph.

Judge Sheridan said Wagstaff had between nine and 11 seconds to see the vehicles ahead had he "not been so distracted by using the phone".

"You took no action whatsoever because you weren't concentrating on what was in front of you - they were there to be seen and you didn't see them."

A jury had cleared Wagstaff of causing death by dangerous driving.

Despite Judge Sheridan acknowledging that Wagstaff had not broken the law by using a bluetooth headset, he said: "It would be wrong of me not to take the opportunity to urge the public to download the app that deactivates your phone when you are on the move."

Image source, Facebook
Image caption,
The minibus was owned and being driven by Cyriac Joseph

The eight people killed were all travelling in the minibus, which was carrying 11 Indian tourists from Nottingham to London ahead of a trip to Disneyland Paris.

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

Four other passengers - including a four-year-old girl orphaned by the crash - were seriously injured and spent weeks in hospital afterwards.

'Utmost dignity'

Masierak was also disqualified from driving for 17 years after he was convicted of eight counts of causing death by dangerous driving and four counts of causing serious injury by dangerous driving.

Wagstaff admitted eight counts of causing death by careless driving and four counts of causing serious injury by careless driving. He was banned from driving for three years.

At the sentencing, Judge Sheridan took the opportunity to thank the victims' families who he said had "conducted themselves with utmost dignity which was utterly humbling".