Tributes to ‘loyal’ former soldier killed in M40 caravan crash

Tributes have been paid to a “thoughtful, loyal and friendly” former soldier who died in a crash after a caravan was towed the wrong way along the M40 motorway.

Thames Valley Police were alerted to a Subaru Forester towing a caravan in the wrong direction on the northbound carriageway of the M40 just before 4pm on Monday.

A short while later the vehicle was in a crash with a Ford Mondeo and a Ford Focus near junction six in Lewknor, Oxfordshire.

The driver and a passenger of the Subaru, both in their 80s, died as well as the Mondeo driver, Stuart Richards, from Stockport, Cheshire.

The 32-year-old served in Iraq and Afghanistan with the Royal Engineers and after leaving the service he most recently worked as a health and safety inspector.

He was also a member of Veterans For Peace, who have invited fellow members to attend his funeral in Nuneaton, Warwickshire, on November 2.

A spokesman for the group said: “Stu Richards turned up on Remembrance Sunday in 2016. He had just left the Army and had come to find Veterans For Peace and join us.

“He immediately fitted in and over time showed a firm commitment to our cause, attending our annual gathering in 2017 and our Armed Forces Day event this year in Blackpool.

“He brought his dad Mel in to the organisation, both had served in the British Army on operations.

“Stu Richards will be greatly missed by the members of Veterans For Peace. He was calm, thoughtful, loyal and friendly. Our thoughts are with his family.”

Friend Stuart Dillon said “Stuart was very passionate about politics. Having served his country, he became a great believer in the need for change and to stop unnecessary wars.

“He was dedicated to the cause of Veterans For Peace, a thoroughly decent friend and person.”

Thames Valley Police have made a mandatory referral to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) because the force had previous contact with the Subaru involved in the fatal crash.

A force spokesman said: “On October 10 this year in High Wycombe, a report of a damage-only road traffic collision involving the Subaru Forester was made to the force.

“The IOPC will now make a decision as to whether they will carry out an investigation.”

Videos filmed before the motorway crash and posted on social media show motorists travelling in the outside lane of the motorway being forced to swerve to avoid a collision with the Subaru.