HGV driver found not guilty in murder and manslaughter trial

Jurors have acquitted a lorry driver of the murder and manslaughter of his “friend” at a freight yard. Unanimous not guilty verdicts were returned on both counts at Chester Crown Court on Thursday afternoon as the jury cleared Rafal Seremak, 45, from Wolomin in Poland, of the unlawful killing of Miroslaw Iwaniuk, 50, at Nolan Transport on Brindley Road in Astmoor Industrial Estate, Runcorn, on Wednesday, August 4, last year. Rafal Seremak had said he had pinned Mr Iwaniuk to the ground in a bid to calm him down and thought he was playing when he initially appeared unresponsive, and when he realised there was a problem called 999.

Mr Iwaniuk was taken by ambulance to hospital where he was pronounced dead. The cause of death was recorded as “traumatic neck and back injuries”. READ MORE: Huge cordon as unexploded bomb found in home

Earlier that evening Mr Iwaniuk and Rafal Seremak had been drinking and eating with fellow lorry drivers near the rest and recreation area of the yard. In his prosecution opening, John Benson, QC, said there had been what might be described as “horse play” involving Mr Iwaniuk and other drivers, who “goaded” Mr Iwaniuk. After Mr Iwaniuk became more disgruntled, there was an incident in which the defendant offered Mr Iwaniuk a vape device, and used this as a “distraction” to sweep Mr Iwaniuk’s leg, lower him to the ground and pin him there in a “headlock”.

Mr Iwaniuk did not regain consciousness. Police arrested Rafal Seremak the following day.

Brindley Road, Astmoor, Runcorn.Miroslaw Iwaniuk, 50., was taken to hospital after police and paramedics were called to Brindley Road in Astmoor, Runcorn, on August 4.

During the trial, jurors saw CCTV footage from the transport yard and heard evidence including a transcript of interviews with Cheshire Police detectives, during which Rafal Seremak said Mr Iwaniuk, whom he referred to as “Mirek”, became “argumentative” after drinking alcohol because another driver had not chipped in for the beer, vodka, wine and sausage. He said Mirek showed them the “middle finger” even though they were all “great mates”, and he believed Mirek had “too much to drink, he was looking for trouble, causing a problem”.

CCTV footage from the yard showed Mr Iwaniuk showing the middle finger to them. In custody the then-suspect told detectives he thought “Mirek wanted to beat up Tomasz (Kawka)” and jumped over a barrier and pushed Rafal Seremak away and “tried to hit Tomasz”, who ran away. The defendant said he was asking Mirek “why (are) you trying to beat him up?”, and Mirek “pushed me with his belly about three times”.

He said he was “scared” and “afraid” of Mirek, who was a “large man”, weighing about “160kg” and “over 180cm tall”. Describing how he knocked Mr Iwaniuk to the ground he said: “So basically I used my foot to knock him over, with the right leg you know when you make someone trip?” He told detectives that he told Mirek they were “friends” and “we should stick together”, adding: “I didn’t want him to get up – if he gets up he’s bigger and stronger, he’s going to beat me up.”

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He said: “I kept on top of him and holding his neck. “I was calming him down saying ‘brother, calm down, I will let you go if you calm down’.

“All this time I wanted him to calm down.” He added he “wouldn’t like to hurt him” because Mr Iwaniuk was a family breadwinner for relatives in Poland. Rafal Seremak said he “called him brother, I loved him”, but sometimes Mirek would “get drunk” and be “argumentative”.

The defence case was represented by Gordon Cole, QC, and supported by Philip Tully. The trial opened on July 18. READ NEXT:

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