Eight people died when their minibus was crushed between two lorries - the first of which was “parked” in lane one of the M1 motorway in the dark, a jury heard yesterday (Thurs).
Both truckers are on trial for causing all eight deaths by dangerous driving although the court heard that one of them was drunk and the other made no attempt to stop before slamming into the vehicles.
The eight victims of the Bank Holiday horror crash were on there way to Disneyland Paris when their minibus was crushed underneath a truck because the other lorry driver was not paying attention, the court was told.
The minibus had been forced to stop as Polish lorry driver Ryszard Mariesak stopped his HGV in the slow lane after travelling for a period of time at only 11mph.
The minibus, driven by victim Cyriac Joseph, was forced to a stop behind it. Mr Joseph put the hazard lights on as he stopped. The second lorry driver, David Wagstaff, was driving in the slow lane on cruise control at 56mph.
In his opening speech to the jury, Oliver Saxby QC, said: “David Wagstaff simply did not see the minibus, he was not paying attention. We are talking ‘driver error’ as opposed to anything to do with the lorry itself.
“The minibus had its hazard lights on and, as we will see, the upper trailer lights on the back of the Scania [first lorry] were also illuminated. Yet David Wagstaff did not see the minibus. Instead he drove into the back of the minibus - pushing it some 25 metres or so, along the road into the rear of, and underneath the first lorry.”
The jury was also told how earlier in the evening other drivers had spotted Masierak driving in an “erratic” manner.
Mr Saxby, speaking at Reading Crown Court, continued: “A lorry driver called Dennis Badham was on a roundabout. The roundabout is a substantial one, controlled by traffic lights. When the lights went green, he proceeded onto the roundabout.
“As he did so, he saw an AIM lorry travelling towards him going the wrong way round the roundabout. This was Masierak.
“As to where he went immediately after, the answer is the WRONG WAY down the M69 slip road, where he nearly collided with a car being driven by another witness from whom you will be hearing, Ben Murphy.”
The jury was told that Mr Murphy said in a statement to police: “It was as though the driver was totally unaware he was travelling the wrong way.”
Karthikeyan Pugalur Ramasubramanian, aged 33 years and wife Lavanyalakshmi Seetharaman, aged 32 years, who were from the Alwarthirunagar area of Chennai, India were one couple to die in the crash (subs note: all name spelling correct).
Subramaniyan Arachelvan, aged 58 years, and his wife Tamilmani Arachelvan, aged 50 years, from the Saket area of Dehli, India were another couple who lost their lives in the collision.
Also killed were 63-year-old Panneerselvam Annamalai from the Nagar area of Chennai, India, 26-year-old Vivek Baskaran from the Avaiyambalpuram area of Mayiladuthurai, India, and 27-year-old Rishi Rajeev Kumar from Kerala, India.
The minibus driver and owner of Nottingham-based ABC Travels, Cyriac Joseph, aged 52 years and from Nottingham, was the only person killed in the crash with a British address.
Polish-born Ryszard Masierak, of Barnards Close, Evesham, Worcs., aged 32 years, is charged with a total of 20 counts relating to the collision including eight counts of causing death by dangerous driving, four counts of causing serious injury by dangerous driving and eight counts of causing death by careless driving while over the prescribed limit.
David Wagstaff, of Derwent Street, Stoke-on-Trent, Staffs., aged 54 years, is also charged with eight counts of causing death by dangerous driving and four counts causing serious injury by dangerous driving.
The trial continues and is expected to last nine days.