Trucker ‘breached cab hours’

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A TRUCKER who denies killing two Wigan men through dangerous driving had breached cab hours laws, a trial heard.

Father-of-one Philip Cawley, 39, from Ashton, and 69-year-old Haydock grandfather Thomas Southward were changing a tyre on the hard shoulder of the M6 in Cheshire when they were killed instantaneously.

HGV driver Malcolm Simpson from Selby, North Yorkshire, faces two charges of causing death by dangerous driving and two of causing death by careless driving.

Prosecution witness PC David Clegg from Cheshire Police motorway patrol unit - an expert on lorry tachographs - told the Chester Crown Court jury that the devices record time, distance and speed “like a heart monitor”.

The chart showed that 62-year-old Simpson breached driver legislation several times during the fortnight before the tragedy on September 9 2010 including the day before.

He didn’t take long enough “valid” rest breaks the law requires between each four-and-a-half-hour driving period, falling 11 minutes short on the eve of the crash.

And he exceeded the maximum 10 hours behind the wheel in one day allowed by some 18 minutes. There were also two occasions of mileage discrepancies shown on the tachograph in the days preceding the accident.

Read-outs showed he had been travelling at 54mph when the crash occurred and that he would have had three seconds after veering onto the hard shoulder to see them and take avoiding action.

In a subsequent interview with police, Simpson, a type 2 diabetic, confirmed he had taken his full medication for the day.

When challenged whether he had fallen asleep at the wheel causing the truck to make the fateful drift into the hard shoulder he said “not in my knowledge”.

Asked for his feelings about the accident by defence counsel Mark Le Broq, Simpson said: “I apologise to the families – it was just one of those things.”

But after gasps of shock and disbelief from relatives in the public gallery he added: “I am heartbroken. If I could turn the clock back I would.”

Simpson said he had eased his lorry towards the hard shoulder to make space for a truck that was trying to pass him in the middle lane, which he claimed, had been side by side with his vehicle for “quite a few miles”.

He could offer no reason why this truck didn’t appear on the CCTV shown to the jury from both a static motorway camera and a passing VOSA patrol vehicle.

Earlier, NHC care manager and TA medic Nicholas Meadway, one of the first motorists to stop at the accident described the scene of the horror.

Because of his medical training, Mr Meadway said it was clear that nothing further could be done to help the two men, who had been fatally injured, and he immediately enlisted the help of another driver to cover up their bodies.

He climbed up to Simpson in his cab, who said: “My God, I am shaking like a leaf, I think I might have hit him.”