Lorry driver tells court he ‘cannot remember anything at all’ about M1 crash

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A lorry driver who smashed into the back of a minibus in a motorway crash which left eight people dead has told a court he cannot remember what happened.

Fed Ex driver David Wagstaff, 54, was driving on cruise control and was on the telephone to a friend when he ploughed into the minibus at 56mph on the M1 in the early hours of August 26 last year, Reading Crown Court heard.

Wagstaff, who had been a HGV driver for 12 years with a clean licence until the crash, told the jury: “I cannot remember anything at all. I can recall the aftermath.”

He described what happened as a “lack of concentration – that’s what I stand by because I have no memory of it”.

The jury heard there was no evidence of him braking or trying to turn the wheel before the crash.

Wagstaff said he recalls being in a police car and also on a crash barrier at the side of the road after the crash.

He had crashed into a minibus driven by Cyriac Joseph, who was waiting with his hazard lights on for the chance to go around a second lorry, driven by Ryszard Masierak.

Wagstaff, of Stoke on Trent, has pleaded guilty to eight charges of causing death by careless driving and four counts of careless driving.

Masierak and Wagstaff both deny eight counts each of causing death by dangerous driving, and four counts each of causing serious injury by dangerous driving.

Masierak, 32, of Evesham, Worcestershire, faces a further eight charges of causing death by careless driving, while over the prescribed alcohol limit, which he denies.

Wagstaff’s lawyer Gillian Jones QC told the court he does not have any argument with the police account of what was said in the aftermath or during his police interview.

Wagstaff told the court: “I do remember saying, ‘It’s my fault, I have done it’ but I cannot remember too much of anything else.”

Ms Jones said Wagstaff also told a police officer: “I’m going to prison. I have seen it often enough. I was on the telephone.”

Wagstaff said he does not recall this conversation but added that those words “definitely” sound like something he would say.

Wagstaff, who appeared upset during parts of his evidence, said: “Everything is a bit messed up in my head.”

The married father of one has since had counselling and been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.

Masierak, the other lorry driver who was involved in a three-vehicle pile-up, had earlier described himself to the jury as a “careful driver” and denied he was drunk.

He also said he could remember details of the crash and had stopped on the hard shoulder because he was sweating, felt weakness and had a headache.

Masierak, speaking through a Polish interpreter, described himself as a “careful driver”, despite other road users saying his driving was “erratic”.

He told the jury he had drunk alcohol before starting his delivery shift but said he was not drunk.

The prosecution have said that a breath test at the scene and later at a police station showed he was “likely to have been in the region of twice the legal limit” at the time of the collision at about 3am.

The court also heard that Masierak had been stationary for 12 minutes in the slow lane of the M1 that day.

Masierak recalled that at junction 14, before the crash, he knew “that something bad was happening to me” as he was feeling unwell and slowed his vehicle.

He told the jury: “Approaching this slip of the road, my vision was blurry.

“This slip road was in the distance as if some mist was in my eyes. Instead of seeing one lane I could see two.”

He said he was attempting to get to the hard shoulder to stop, adding that he felt faint “as if I was going to lose it”.

Masierak said he slowed his lorry and pulled the handbrake.

He said: “I fell to the floor between the passenger seat and the driver’s seat. Then I lost consciousness and do not remember anything from then on – not the force of the impact.”

He said he could not recall what had happened and described it as like being in “a small coma”.

The fatalities include six men and two women.

Four other minibus passengers, including a four-year-old girl, were seriously injured in the collision on the southbound M1, near Milton Keynes.

The hearing was adjourned to Thursday at 10am.

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