Father pays tribute to ‘caring’ former soldier killed in M40 caravan crash

The father of a “caring and intelligent” former soldier who died in a crash with a caravan says his family are “struggling to come to terms with his death”.

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

A short while later, the vehicle was involved in a collision 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 in 2016, he most recently worked as a health and safety inspector.

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

His father, Mel Richards, 58, said: “Stuart was such a lovely lad and that’s one of the reasons Veterans For Peace was more a part of his life than his military career.

“He was perhaps a little too sensitive and over-thought things a bit too much.

“When he came out having served in Iraq and Afghanistan he was interested in finding a solution that didn’t involve killing anyone.

“When he found out Veterans For Peace was there he was intrigued by this idea.”

Mr Richards said his son had just put a deposit on a house with his partner, Ashley Crawford, in Stockport, Greater Manchester, which he feared she might lose without his son’s financial contribution.

He said they were seeking legal advice concerning the Subaru driver, adding: “I hope they have insurance and we are able to do something to help Ashley come out of this without having to suffer a financial penalty as well as a terrible loss.”

Mr Richards said his son had a niece who he “doted on” and she was “missing him terribly”.

“We are still struggling to come to terms with it, we have such lovely memories of him and so many friends have been in contact with their lovely memories which makes it much easier to hold it together,” he said.

Friend Stuart Dillon, of Veterans For Peace, said “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 has 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.”

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