Jury goes out in death crash case

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A JURY has retired to consider its verdict in the case of a lorry driver involved in a crash which killed two Wigan men on the M6.

Philip Cawley, 39, from Ashton, and Thomas Southward, 69, from Haydock, were changing a tyre having stopped on the hard shoulder of the northbound carriageway near Sandbach when they were struck a fatal glancing blow.

Professional HGV driver Malcolm Simpson’s lorry had had drifted off the slow lane into their path during dry and bright conditions in September 2010.

Simpson, 62, of Selby, North Yorkshire, denies two counts of causing death by dangerous driving and two of causing death by careless driving.

On the final day of defence evidence, Siimpson told the jury that he had been referred to hospital in York after complaining about problems with tinitus five months before the accident.

An MRI scan revealed a mark on his brain that may indicate he had unknowingly suffered a “silent” stroke in the past, while heart tests revealed narrowing one of his three coronary arteries.

But medical authorities, who referred him for more heart tests gave him the go-ahead to continue to drive HGVs.

He has never been involved in an accident requiring the police since passing his HGV test in 1982.

However, he had not driven any vehicle since the death of the two Wigan men on what he said was his GP’s advice.

He has subsequently been employed as a carer.

The defence say that Simpson medical condition may have caused him to lose consciousness at the wheel allowing his truck to drift onto the hard shoulder with fatal consequences.

Summing up, prosecuting counsel Simon Parry said: “Not a single person involved in this trial can fail to have been touched by the tragedy of this road accident, both for the victims and their families.

“Two ordinary men were going about their lives, doing an ordinary job of work and within a matter of seconds their lives were lost.

“You wouldn’t be human without feeling the utmost sympathy for their situation.

“Equally there will be some level of sympathy for Mr Simpson himself having been responsible as the driver of the lorry that hit these two men.”

He said as an experienced HGV driver, Simpson should have known and observed fully the driver hours legislation.

Mr Parry said: “The driver hour regualtions are there to protect all of us who use the roads as far as is possible.

“Any vehicle being driven by a driver who is tired is a danger – and HGV with 44 tons of steel trailer behind it even more so.”

Defence counsel Mark Le Brocq said that the CCTV footage recordings showing Simpson’s truck drifting onto the hard shoulder before striking both men a horrific fatal blow showed what had happened on that very tragic day.

But it was up to the jury to decide why the truck, on its way to Lancashire from Felixstowe docks, had been driven that way. It was up to the jury if Simpson’s medical history, and the possiblility of a medical episode while he was at the wheel, could not be excluded.