Lorry driver was not in proper control

A LORRY driver was not in proper control of his wagon in heavy traffic close to a fatal crash scene on the M6. James Alexander Kaszta, 38, became stuck in congestion near Penrith while driving south at around 12-30pm on August 17 last year. Near Junction 41, a car and a motorhome had collided, resulting in the death of 62-year-old Manchester-based grandmother and holidaymaker Martina Taylor.

After a full motorway closure, lane three of the southbound carriageway reopened. Sergeant Callum Young – on foot in lane two – told North and West Cumbria Magistrates’ Court he saw an HGV pass. “The driver was tilted to the left, holding what I believed was a mobile phone up, pointing towards the scene,” he said.

“They are looking out the side of the vehicle.” But married father-of-three Kaszta insisted he was facing forward and not using a phone. Instead he was trying to reattach a sat nav which had fallen on to the dashboard.

He denied filming the crash scene on a phone, saying to do so would have been “sick”. Kaszta denied a charge of not having proper control of his vehicle, but was convicted after a trial. Presiding magistrate Ian Douglas concluded Sergt Young was a “credible, clear and precise” witness although “may have been mistaken as to the device he saw”.

“But on the defendant’s account we find that he was holding the sat nav for around 10 to 15 seconds and trying to fasten it back to the windscreen whilst driving, even at a very low speed,” said Mr Douglas. “This proved that the defendant would not have had proper control of the vehicle. We are satisfied that the offence has been proved beyond reasonable doubt and we therefore find him guilty as charged.”

Kaszta, of Branshill Park, Sauchie, Alloa, must pay a fine and costs totalling GBP1,000, and received three penalty points.

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