UK crash lorry driver found guilty
London: The lorry driver, held responsible for a horrific crash on the M1 motorway, in which eight Indians were killed outright and four others sustained serious injuries, has been found guilty of causing death by dangerous driving.
Ryszard Masierak, a 32-year-old Polish national, had pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of causing death by "careless driving" but after nine hours of deliberations, the jury at Reading Crown Court returned unanimous verdicts of causing death by dangerous driving on each of the eight counts.
He was also found guilty on four counts of causing serious injury by dangerous driving.
The jury will now have to decide on identical charges relating to a second lorry driver, David Wagstaff.
The 54-year-old, who had been a HGV (heavy goods vehicle) driver for 12 years with a clean license until the crash, told the jury he could not remember what happened and put it down to a "lack of concentration".
Masierak had stopped his AIM Logistics lorry for 12 minutes on the inside lane of the motorway near Milton Keynes at 3am on August 26 last year.
A minibus, with a party of 12 Indians, including the driver, Cyriac Joseph, came up behind him and put its hazard lights on while it was forced to stop. But before Joseph could pull out to the middle lane to his right, the minibus was crushed after being hit from behind by a Fedex lorry driven at 56mph by Wagstaff.
He was on "cruise control" and chatting to a friend on a hands free mobile.
Masierak had described himself to the jury as a "careful driver" and claimed he had attempted to pull over on to
the hard shoulder as he felt unwell, but passed out and could not remember anything.
He denied he was drunk but 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 heard.
Joseph was killed instantly. Four were badly injured, among them five-year-old Shravathi Ramasubramanian, whose mother and father, Lavanyalakshmi Seetharaman and Karthikeyan Pugalur Ramasubramanian, perished in the crash.
Others who died were Panneerselvam Annamalai, Rishi Ranjeev Kumar, Vivek Baskaran, Subramaniyan Arachelvan and Tamilmani Arachelvan.