Lorry driver who killed biker after crushing him against steel motorway barriers is jailed
A lorry driver who killed a motorcyclist from Teesside after crushing him against steel barriers has been jailed for two years. Alan Short, known as Andrew, died when Mateusz Pietrow’s HGV crashed with his Yamaha bike, causing him catastrophic injuries. The 56-year-old engineer was heading home from a trip around Europe with a friend when the Polish national trucker pulled out without indicating or checking his wing mirror or blind spot.
Having been first pushed into the barriers, Mr Short – originally from Middlesbrough , who had moved to Selby in North Yorkshire – was then dragged under the lorry’s wheels. He died at the scene. The barriers had been erected in March last year along a 15-mile stretch of the M20 to deal with traffic in the event of a no-deal Brexit, reports Kent Live .
Operation Brock, as it was known, created a contraflow system whereby the London-bound carriageway was reduced to two narrow lanes. A 50mph speed limit was also introduced.
But Maidstone Crown Court heard Pietrow turned off his cruise control and accelerated to 55mph in his left-hand drive truck before hitting Mr Short as he changed lanes at about 1.20pm on Sunday, September 22, last year. One motorist saw the danger and sounded his horn as a warning, while another later told police the lorry had performed the same manoeuvre just minutes earlier causing a car to brake sharply.
Prosecutor Daniel Stevenson said Mr Short would have been in Pietrow’s vision for at least 18-and-a-half seconds – and possibly as long as 72 seconds – prior to the crash. However, the 31-year-old, who was heading to Northampton to deliver a load of chairs, told police he did not see the motorcyclist at all. He denied causing Mr Short’s death by careless driving but was convicted by a jury of seven men and five women after about two hours’ deliberation.
Alan Short, known as Andrew, died when Mateusz Pietrow’s HGV crashed with his Yamaha bike, causing him catastrophic injuries.
‘Their grief is raw’
Passing sentence, Judge Adele Williams told Pietrow he had been found guilty on ‘clear and compelling’ evidence, and that his driving fell ‘just short’ of being dangerous.
“Your failure to pay proper care and attention to your driving led to these tragic and devastating consequences,” she said. “It was not a momentary lapse of concentration. There was a period of bad driving.”
Having heard victim personal statements from his wife and one of his daughters, which described how Mr Short was looking forward to the birth of his first grandchild, Judge Williams added: “His loss is very considerable and their grief is raw and quite apparent. “Nothing that I say nor any sentence that I can pass can in any way assuage that loss and grief, nor is it in any way designed to put a value on his life. It cannot possibly do so.”
Pietrow, who lives with his fiancee and their child in Poland and had been a lorry driver for five years, was also banned from the road for four years. The maximum jail term for causing death by careless driving is five years .
Mr Stevenson had told the court at the start of the trial: “There is no dispute that the defendant’s lorry collided with the motorcycle and that collision caused Mr Short’s death. “The prosecution say that in the lead up to this collision, the defendant did not check his wing mirror.
Had he done so he would have seen Mr Short and would not have collided with him.” Mr Stevenson said Mr Short was on his black Yamaha 1000cc bike in lane two, with the barriers to his right and Pietrow’s HGV to his left in lane one. “Traffic was slowing gently but the defendant accelerated and manoeuvred his vehicle from lane one to lane two, and as he did he collided with the motorcycle.
“Mr Short was separated from his motorcycle and pushed into the barrier. He suffered catastrophic injuries and died instantly.” The prosecutor added motorist Nathan Smith saw the lorry move out while the motorcyclist was alongside and began to sound his horn to try to prevent a collision.
Another driver described seeing the HGV swerve across without signalling, and tests later revealed Pietrow had accelerated from 44 to 55 mph.
Mr Stevenson told the court that an expert had concluded “but for the acceleration” the collision would not have occurred.
Operation Brock was stood down the month after Mr Short’s death but the barriers remained in place until the end of January.