NEWS

07 Mar 2018

Convictions in M1 Crash Case

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Richard Masierak was yesterday convicted of eight counts of causing death by dangerous driving and four counts of causing serious injury by dangerous driving. The jury are continuing to deliberate on the case against David Wagstaff – the lorry driver who collided with the minibus that had pulled up behind Mr Masierak’s lorry. Mr Wagstaff accepts causing death by careless driving but denies that his driving was dangerous.

The case is being prosecuted by Oliver Saxby QC, leading Peter Shaw. They are instructed by Thames Chiltern Complex Crime Casework Unit.

The trial, which commenced on Thursday 22nd February, has involved complex forensic expert evidence on a number of areas.

In respect of Mr Masierak, the Crown called evidence establishing the route he had taken over the course of a 4-hour journey. Proving that he had gone the wrong way around a major roundabout, gone the wrong way down a motorway slip road, made various detours and driven erratically in the lead-up to parking up in the slow lane of the M1 motorway required very detailed tachograph and GPS analysis; and the Crown’s challenge was to present this in a way that was detailed enough to assure the jury that it was accurate, on the one hand, though not so detailed that it was difficult to follow, on the other. Allied to this, there was also dashcam footage from various road users and highways CCTV covering the collision itself, together with ANPR and phone evidence.

There were therefore a number of evidential sources which needed to be placed together in a comprehensible way. The Crown used a cross-referenced Timeline with interactive clips as its source document, allowing the jury instant access to their own ‘master’ summary of all relevant evidence. This allowed them to follow the routes as depicted on the maps and ally what Mr Masierak’s lorry was doing to the more technical detail, creating a package of evidence that was both easy to follow and demonstrably sound.

The Crown also called detailed toxicological evidence which included complex back-calculations covering a number of variables. And it had to deal with Mr Masierak’s defence – ‘medical necessity’. In summary, it was his case that he had been overcome by light-headedness, stopped and then fainted. This was a defence requiring careful analysis and challenge.

For his part, Mr Wagstaff called an expert collision investigator to counter the evidence of the Crown’s own expert. Issues arising included the phenomenon of ‘looming’ and the extent to which visual and cognitive perception play a part in reaction times.

Mr Wagstaff also relied on expert psychological evidence establishing that he was suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder – something of relevance to the amnesia regarding the accident that he was suffering from by the time of trial.

Please use the links below for media coverage of the case:-

Click here for BBC News report
Click here for Sky News report
Click here for news item in The Times
Click here for news item in the Daily Express
Click here for news item in The Guardian