Lorry driver jailed for dangerous driving after six injured in West Mersea, Essex

PUBLISHED: 16:46 20 April 2017 | UPDATED: 16:47 20 April 2017

Michael Steward[1]

Philip Last. Photo: Chris Radburn/PA

Philip Last. Photo: Chris Radburn/PA

A lorry driver has been jailed for 18 months after the steam engine he was carrying on the back of his truck crashed into a bus, causing serious injuries to six people.

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The collision on East Mersea Road between a bus and a low-loader lorry in September 2015. Photo: ARCHANTThe collision on East Mersea Road between a bus and a low-loader lorry in September 2015.

Photo: ARCHANT

Philip Last, 53, was driving along East Mersea Road in West Mersea when the 1920s vintage steam engine fell from his low loader on September 23, 2015. Last was also disqualified from driving for 21 months and will have to take an extended test once the ban expires. Ipswich Crown Court heard today how Last did not secure the vehicle correctly to his lorry, choosing to use canvas straps at one end of the steam engine instead of four chains in each corner as he had been shown.

Leaving the Henham Steam Rally at Cardinals Park, Ipswich, in September 2015, Last applied brakes when he saw the bus and one of the straps snapped, causing the steam engine to fall onto the bus.

Essex Police investigate a collision on East Mersea Road between a bus and a low-loader lorry which was carrying a steam engine. The driver of the bus had to be released by the fire service and has been airlifted to the Royal London Hospital with life threatening injuries.Essex Police investigate a collision on East Mersea Road between a bus and a low-loader lorry which was carrying a steam engine. The driver of the bus had to be released by the fire service and has been airlifted to the Royal London Hospital with life threatening injuries.

The court heard the driver of the bus – Michael Birch – suffered serious injuries, including a punctured lung and fractured hip and underwent seven operations.

He is unable to drive again. Five other passengers out of 34 who were on the bus also suffered serious injuries, including one who underwent reconstructive surgery to his face following the crash. Peter Gair, prosecutor, said: “As soon as the load was fixed, this was an accident waiting to happen.”

Harry Warner, defending, said: “He has shown genuine remorse and is horrified that his actions led to the injuries they did.

Essex Police investigate a collision on East Mersea Road between a bus and a low-loader lorry which was carrying a steam engine. The driver of the bus had to be released by the fire service and has been airlifted to the Royal London Hospital with life threatening injuries.Essex Police investigate a collision on East Mersea Road between a bus and a low-loader lorry which was carrying a steam engine. The driver of the bus had to be released by the fire service and has been airlifted to the Royal London Hospital with life threatening injuries.

“Not a day goes by that he doesn’t wish he checked and re-checked the load that day.”

Judge David Goodin, sentencing Last, said: “Your gross carelessness and negligence had grave consequences. “That extremely heavy piece of kit – the steam engine – fell on a passenger service vehicle and caused what can only be described as life changing injuries to six of the occupants. Other passengers were also injured.

“You took a shortcut. You knew it was a shortcut. You wouldn’t have wished this on anyone for a second but you caused it.”

Speaking outside the court, Stephen Hartman, operations manager at First Essex bus company, said: “Michael has been through a long journey, as have all the passengers on the bus, and I am pleased it has finally come to a conclusion and we can move forward.”

References

  1. ^ Michael Steward (www.eadt.co.uk)

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