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Lorry driver cleared of dangerous driving over fatal M1 crash which killed eight

A second lorry driver has been cleared of causing death by dangerous driving after a fatal M1 pile-up which killed eight people.

David Wagstaff was today found not guilty of eight counts of causing death and four counts of causing serious injury by dangerous driving.

Yesterday, lorry driver Ryszard Masierak - who was not licensed to drive HGVs - was convicted of causing death by dangerous driving over the August Bank Holiday crash.

Eight people died in the pile-up. They were:

  • Cyriac Joseph, 52
  • Karthikeyan Pugalur Ramasubramaniam, 33
  • Rishi Ranjeev Kumar, 27
  • Vivek Baskaran, 26
  • Panneerselvam Annamalai, 63
  • Subramaniyan Arachelvan, 58
  • Lavanyalakshmi Seetharaman, 33
  • Tamilmani Arachelvan, 50
Wagstaff previously pleaded guilty to causing death by careless driving. Credit: PA
Cyriac Joseph was the minibus driver who was killed along with his seven passengers. Credit: BPM Media

Fed Ex driver Wagstaff had been on a hands-free call and was driving on cruise control when he crashed into a minibus driven by Cyriac Joseph.

The minibus had its hazard lights on and was waiting behind Masierak's stationary lorry when Wagstaff hit them at 56mph.

It forced the minibus - which was from Nottingham-based ABC Travels - under Masierak’s lorry.

Ryszard Masierak was found guilty of causing death by dangerous driving on Tuesday. Credit: Thames Valley Police

Masierak - a Polish national living in Worcestershire - had been stationary in the slow lane for 12 minutes. He was over the limit, asleep and had recently had his HGV licence revoked.

He told Reading Crown Court he was a careful driver and claimed he had tried to pull over on the hard shoulder because he felt unwell.

He denied he was drunk, but a breathalyser test showed he was 'likely to have been in the region of twice the legal limit' at the time of the crash.

Masierak also told a witness at the scene he had been ‘asleep’ and asked if he could ‘go’.

Eight people died in a crash on the M1 last August. Credit: ITV News Anglia

But he should not have been behind the wheel. His HGV licence was revoked just a month before.

A statement from the Traffic Commissioner for the West Midlands revealed:

Ryszard Masierak was called to a driver conduct hearing before the Traffic Commissioner for the West Midlands on 28 June 2017 following a report by the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) that Mr Masierak had committed drivers’ hours offences whilst in the employment of Cargo Carriers (Midlands) Ltd.

The Office of the Traffic Commissioner wrote to Mr Masierak at the residential address recorded on the driving licence database to give him notice of the hearing on 28 June. He failed to attend.

As a result, the Traffic Commissioner suspended his professional driving licence, meaning he could not drive HGVs.

The Office of the Traffic Commissioner notified Mr Masierak of the suspension and that his professional driving licence would be revoked if he failed to make contact to arrange a further date.

Mr Masierak did not make contact with the Office of the Traffic Commissioner and his professional driving licence was therefore revoked with effect from 20 July 2017.

– Traffic Commissioner for the West Midlands
Mr Joseph was driving a minibus from Nottingham to London. His passengers were travelling to Disneyland Paris. Credit: ITV News Anglia

Cyriac Joseph had been driving his minibus passengers from Nottingham to London. They were heading on a dream holiday to Disneyland in France.

Four other passengers - including a four-year-old girl - were injured in the crash, which happened near Newton Pagnell in Buckinghamshire.

Paying tribute to their father, Mr Joseph’s children - Benson and Benita Cyriac - said:

He was kind-hearted, loving, caring, helpful.

He was someone you could rely on. He was always on the phone helping someone out.

He loved taking photos and cameras. He always wanted family pictures of everyone on holidays. He was a very family orientated man.

– Benson and Benita Cyriac

On Tuesday, Masierak was found guilty of eight counts of causing death and four counts of causing serious injury by dangerous driving.

Because of this verdict, the jury was no longer required to consider alternative charges against Masierak of causing death by careless driving, while over the prescribed alcohol limit.

Wagstaff previously pleaded guilty to eight counts of the lesser charge, causing death by careless driving and four counts of careless driving.

He has been cleared of causing death by dangerous driving. Wagstaff was also diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder following the crash.