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August 31 2017
By Mel Holley

Mel is the Editor at routeONE magazine. He has more than 30 years’ experience in road and rail transport journalism.

Drunk homeless lorry driver
charged with minibus deaths

A homeless Polish-born lorry driver, accused of killing eight people, had stopped in the lane one of the M1 for 12 minutes before the crash and was almost twice the drink drive limit, High Wycombe Magistrates' Court heard yesterday (29 August).

It is the worst fatal UK collision since 13 people were killed in the M40 school bus crash near Warwick in 1993.

Ryszard Masierak, 31, of Evesham, Worcestershire, was remanded in custody pending a future hearing. He was assisted during the hearing by an interpreter.

The crash, near Newport Pagnell at 0315 on Saturday (26 August) involved two articulated lorries, one of which jacked-knifed and sliced through the factory-built Ford Transit minibus carrying 12 people, including the driver. The four survivors were left seriously injured.

The minibus was being driven by Cyriac Joseph, 52, who also owned Cyriac Co Ltd, which trades as ABC Travels of Nottingham.

The firm, founded in 2012, holds a one-vehicle restricted O-Licence.

The court heard that the minibus swerved to avoid the lorry, and was then struck by the second lorry.

Mr Masierak, was charged with drink driving after he gave a reading of 55mg of alcohol per 100ml of breath - the legal limit is 35mg. 

He is also accused of eight counts of causing death by dangerous driving; four of causing serious injury by dangerous driving and eight counts of causing death by careless driving while over the prescribed limit. 

A former flatmate said that Mr Masierak’s was living in his car for the last two months after recently being divorced, and that his transport business closed last year.

The full court hearing is expected to examine issues with driver’s hours compliance, particularly in relation to the 45-hour rest, and how rest was taken given Mr Masierak’s circumstances.

The second lorry driver, David Wagstaff, 53, of Stoke-on-Trent, has also been charged with eight counts of causing death by dangerous driving and four of causing serious injury by dangerous driving.

Mr Wagstaff’s lorry jack-knifed as he braked to avoid the minibus pulling into lane two.

He was bailed to appear at Milton Keynes Magistrates’ Court on 11 September.

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