Beds, Herts & Bucks

M1 crash death: Lorry driver sentenced over man's death

M1 junction 13 Image copyright Google
Image caption The crash happened on the M1 northbound by junction 13 on 11 March

A lorry driver has been sentenced over the death of an 83-year-old man.

John Bennett, from Appleton, Warrington, died after his car was hit by an HGV on the M1 in Bedfordshire on 11 March. His wife Elizabeth, 78, suffered serious injuries.

Pavel Slabej, 37, was cleared of dangerous driving but had previously pleaded guilty to careless driving.

He was sentenced to six months in jail, suspended for two years, and banned from driving for two years.

Slabel, from Mikulas, Slovakia, was driving an orange Scania RF450 lorry when he hit the grey Toyota Avensis driven by Mr Bennett, the court heard.

The couple, who had been married for 58 years, were taken to hospital.

'Catastrophic accident'

Mr Bennett was treated for a traumatic head injury, cervical spine injury and a lung injury and later died.

In a victim impact statement read out in court, Mrs Bennett said she suffered neck and hip pain and arthritis.

Speaking in English, aided by an interpreter, Mr Slabej said he was "still feeling so terrible".

"I don't know how to say how sorry I am for what happened," he told the court.

The jury heard he had no previous convictions, cautions or warnings and had a clean driving record.

Judge Andrew Bright QC said: "The consequence of this accident was catastrophic. Mr Bennett was totally blameless and lost his life.

"When you are driving a very large articulated lorry you are driving what can easily be an instrument of death for anyone who gets in the way of it."

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