M1 death crash: One lorry driver found guilty while the other is cleared

The scene at the time of the crash
The scene at the time of the crash

A drunken lorry driver who stopped inthe middle of the motorway before a minibus was crushed beneath his vehicle is now facing jail.

A jury on Tuesday unanimously found Ryszard Masierak guilty of eight counts of causing death by dangerous driving and four counts of causing serious injury by dangerous driving on the M1 near Newport Pagnell .

But another trucker, David Wagstaff, whose lorry also ploughed into the minibus, has today been cleared by the jury of the same charges. He had admitted eight lesser charges of causing death by careless driving following the August Bank Holiday tragedy last year.

During the lengthy trial Reading Crown Court heard how Masierak had been drinking cans of cider when he parked for 12 minutes on lane one of the M1 motorway, sparking the horrific crash.

Meanwhile FedEx driver David Wagstaff was accused of talking to a colleague on his hands-free mobile phone for an hour before he ploughed into the minibus and Masierak’s stationary lorry.

A catastrophic set of circumstances led to the multiple death crash, the jury was told.

Masierak had been drinking and driving erratically before stopping his lorry inthe carriageway near Newport Pagnell.

He left his rear lights illuminated, but ignored the hard shoulder where he could have stopped safely.

The minibus, driven by Cyriac Joseph, came across Polish-born Masierak’s lorry and pulled up safely behind it with its hazard lights on, waiting for a chance to overtake after becoming ‘baulked’.

Prosecutor Oliver Saxby QC told the jury four people were killed instantly and the others died in hospital.

The court heard how earlier in the evening other drivers had spotted Masierak driving in an “erratic” manner, with one lorry driver seeing him travelling the wrong way around a roundabout and into oncoming traffic on a slip road.

Masierak and Wagstaff had both denied eight counts of causing death by dangerous driving.

Masierak was unanimously found guilty of causing death by dangerous driving while over the prescribed alcohol limit, despite telling jurors he was not drunk.

The court heard Wagstaff had been an HGV driver for 12 years with a clean licence until the crash. His defence counsel claimed he was suffering from “inattentional blindness” - a phenomenon that happens when someone was concentrating on something else, like a mobile phone conversation.

The eight people killed - six men and two women- included couple Karthikeyan Pugalur Ramasubramanian, aged 33 years and wife Lavanyalakshmi Seetharaman, aged 32 years, who were from Chennai in India.