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Stevenage lorry driver jailed after fatal collision on A421 Bedford bypass

Monday, February 20th, 2017 7:17am

ABOVE: Luton Crown Court

A lorry driver who ploughed into a queue of traffic when he lost concentration, causing a six vehicle crash in which two people died, has been jailed for more than 4 years… Luton Crown Court heard how 58-year-old Martyn Graham from Stevenage was on the A421 Bedford bypass when he hit the first vehicle at 56 mph, without braking at all. A web cam in his cab showed the brake lights ahead for 17 seconds before the collision in January 2016.

But the cause of his inattention remains a mystery. He was not using a mobile phone, was not tired or ill, and had driven some 2 million miles over the previous years without incident. Graham pleaded guilty to two charges of causing death by dangerous driving and two charges of causing serious injury by dangerous driving.

He’s been jailed for four years and eight months – and banned from driving for five years. Prosecutor, Wayne Cleaver said the couple who died were grandparents Martin Spratt, 70 and his wife Evelyn, 68. They lived in Buckden, Cambridgeshire.

Mrs Spratt died at the scene trapped in their Toyota Auris and her husband died when he arrived at hospital. Their daughter said in a statement that she could not find words to describe the loss the family felt.

54-year-old Davina Stubbs from Bedford received serious injuries and had to be cut free from her Vauxhall Corsa. She now suffers from Post Traumatic Stress.

She said her ‘mind, body and spirit’ had been broken by the crash and her damaged hand and prevented her loved hobby of piano playing. Scaffolder, Danny Delasalle, 32 from Stevenage was driving a Flat bed Transit van loaded with scaffolding poles. His vehicle was the first to be struck and was concertinared into the other vehicles before crashing into a tree on the verge.

A Scandia HGV lorry and Audi A6 were also involved in the aftermath. The vehicles were badly damaged but the drivers not seriously injured. Prosecutor, Wayne Cleaver described the sequence of the accident which happened in good weather shortly after 2pm on January 12th.

He said a car had broken down on the by-pass, on the eastern section near the village of Elstow. Police had cordoned it off, so traffic had to merge into one lane to pass the obstruction. The vehicles were either stationary or moving slowly when Graham’s Mercedes tractor lorry ploughed into the Transit.

That in turn hit the Toyota with considerable force. It spun round and was extensively damaged, with the occupants trapped inside. The Transit then hit the Corsa, which was pushed into the front of another lorry.

The Transit mounted the verge, and most probably struck a tree. Meanwhile the Mercedes lorry also mounted the verge and toppled onto its side. It had been towing a grain hopper and its load of dried peas spilt all over the road.

Graham said later he had no memory of the events leading up to the accident and could not explain why he had not braked. Mr Ian Bridge, defending said the defendant was throughly remorceful and thought of the accident every day and had sleepless nights. “If he could he would willingly take the place of those who died or were seriously injured”. The barrister said if he had braked six seconds before the crash he could have stopped. “Who amongst us cannot say we don’t lose concentration for a moment or two?”

Judge Bartle said: “It is quite clear and indisputable he was not concentrating or was distracted causing him to take his eyes off the view ahead.

There is no evidence he was using a mobile phone.”

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