A speeding Polish lorry driver wept as he was jailed for causing the death of a great grandmother.

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  • Jaroslaw Mieczan denied dangerous diving but was convicted after a trial
  • 44-year-old smashed into oncoming car killing Maureen Smith, 86, near Carlisle
  • He was jailed for two and a half years and handed a four-year driving ban

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Jaroslaw Mieczan (pictured), 44, was wearing flip-flops and well over the speed limit when he careered onto the wrong side of the road and smashed into Maureen Smith's car

Jaroslaw Mieczan (pictured), 44, was wearing flip-flops and well over the speed limit when he careered onto the wrong side of the road and smashed into Maureen Smith’s car

A speeding Polish lorry driver wept as he was jailed for causing the death of a great grandmother.

Jaroslaw Mieczan, 44, was wearing flip-flops and well over the speed limit when he careered onto the wrong side of the road and smashed into Maureen Smith’s car.

The 86-year-old died at the scene on the A689 near Carlisle, from a series of ‘catastrophic’ injuries.

Mieczan was today jailed for two and a half years following a trial at Carlisle Crown Court. He was also handed a four-year driving ban and must pass an extended re-test.

Judge Barbara Forrester told him: ‘These cases are a tragedy for all involved in them.’

After the tragedy Mrs Smith’s family released a statement that read: ‘It is with great sadness that Maureen has so tragically been taken from us.

‘She was a very much loved mum, grandma, great grandma, sister and aunty who had many friends.

‘She was a great believer in helping others dedicating a lot of time to family, friends, supporting charities and those in need. We will treasure every memory of her.’

Mieczan’s left-hand drive truck was travelling at a ‘constant’ 54mph – above the 50mph HGV limit – despite signs warning motorists to ‘reduce speed’ and ‘slow’, the court heard.

His trial heard he should have been able to see the Ford Fiesta in front of him for more than nine seconds before the fatal smash but was probably ‘distracted’.

Maureen Smith (pictured), 86, died at the scene on the A689 near Carlisle, from a series of 'catastrophic' injuries as a result of the crash

Maureen Smith (pictured), 86, died at the scene on the A689 near Carlisle, from a series of ‘catastrophic’ injuries as a result of the crash

Teenage motorist Jason McAleese told jurors he ‘thought he was going to die’ as he saw the out of control lorry veer towards him seconds before the crash.

Mr McAleese told the court he saw ‘the wagon coming towards me.

I could tell it was going too fast to slow down at the time.’

He grabbed the steering wheel, ‘tensed up’ and closed his eyes.

Asked by prosecutor Kim Whittlestone what he thought would happen, the teen replied: ‘I thought I was going to die.

‘I looked to my right and saw the wagon collide with the car. I think it only just missed my vehicle.’

Another witness – van driver Paul Birkett said after the crash he saw Mieczan get out of his cab ‘wearing inappropriate footwear’.

Mr Birkett added: ‘He was wearing flip-flops.’

A police collision investigator concluded the Fiat Panda Mrs Smith was in would’ve been visible to the HGV driver for 9.4 seconds over 228m.

But there was no reaction from Mieczan during that time until harsh braking immediately before impact.

He speculated that only ‘distraction or fatigue’ could have caused the tragedy.

But giving evidence through an interpreter he told the jury: ‘I pay attention.

‘I was not dangerous driving. I am careful, conscientious driver.

‘This has been a tragic accident.

I am deeply upset and distraught by what has happened.

I am still shocked and horrified.’

He denied causing Mrs Smith’s death by dangerous driving but was convicted, unanimously.

Outside court Sergeant Claire Sampson, of Cumbria Police, said: ‘The speed limit on the road was 50mph for HGVs but Miezcan was driving in excess of this.

‘The investigation showed that, upon cresting the hill, Miezcan would have had at least 272 metres of clear view ahead of him.

‘During that time he would have easily been able to see the stationary vehicle ahead of him.

‘However, there was no reduction in speed until a short time before the collision with Maureen Smith’s car took place.

‘The result of this poor standard of driving has been a tragic loss of life..

‘My thoughts today, and the thoughts of everyone at Cumbria Constabulary, are with the family of Mrs Smith.’

Stuart Pattinson for the Crown Prosecution Service, said: ‘This is a tragic case of a fatal collision which could have been easily avoided.

‘The CPS presented a case to the court which proved that Jaroslaw Mieczan had ample opportunity to see a stationary vehicle ahead waiting to turn.

‘He was distracted until the last moment before the collision and made a conscious and dangerous decision to take an evasive manoeuvre into the path of oncoming traffic, instead of driving onto the grass verge.

‘Throughout the case he denied that he drove dangerously, blaming others for the collision and claiming that he had done his best to avoid it.

‘However, after hearing the evidence against him, the jury found him guilty of causing death by dangerous driving.

‘I would like to offer my condolences to the family and friends of Mrs Smith.

My thoughts are very much with them at this time.’

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References

  1. ^ e-mail (www.dailymail.co.uk)

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