Lorry driver 'haunted by scene of dead bodies' after M1 crash

A lorry driver who smashed into the back of a minibus in a motorway crash which left eight people dead is haunted by scenes of the bodies, a court has been told.

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.

He cannot remember what happened.

His lawyer Ben Gordon told a jury at Reading Crown Court that Wagstaff's doctor reports he has "vivid and intrusive memories particularly from being at the side of the road" and about "the recovery of bodies".

Wagstaff has described in court what happened as a "lack of concentration". There is no evidence of him braking or trying to turn the wheel before the crash.

Polish national Ryszard Masierak (Steve Parsons/PA)
Polish national Ryszard Masierak (Steve Parsons/PA)

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

He has since been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.

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.

In summing up, prosecutor Oliver Saxby QC told the jury they will have to carry out an objective analysis of the manner of driving that day, and whether it had been dangerous rather than careless driving.

He said: "Driving is dangerous if in any way it falls far below the standard of a careful and competent driver and exposes other road users to the danger of physical harm."

Masierak has said that before the fatal crash he had stopped on the hard shoulder because he was sweating, felt weakness and had a headache.

Masierak, speaking through a Polish interpreter, has 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.

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

The fatalities included 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 Monday at 10.30am.