Lorry driver sentenced to four years in jail after causing fatal crash on M1 in Northamptonshire

M1 roadworks taken from the bridge at Watford Gap services. NNL-150303-115701001

M1 roadworks taken from the bridge at Watford Gap services. NNL-150303-115701001

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A lorry driver who caused the death of a car driver on the M1 in Northamptonshire after he crashed into his vehicle has been sentenced to four years in jail.

Michael Spencer, aged 52, was driving his 40-tonne lorry through the roadworks area near junction 16 of the motorway when he failed to spot a car had stopped in the nearside lane and put its hazard lights on.

Crown Court GV

Crown Court GV

James Thomas, prosecuting, said Romas Raguckas suffered a fatal head injury after his vehicle was shunted from behind and pushed down an embankment.

The court heard that Mr Raguckas had stopped because he had run out of petrol. There was no hard shoulder on the carriageway in the roadworks area at the time the crash happened shortly after 4am on December 16, 2014.

Footage from a traffic camera played in court showed how Spencer’s lorry failed to brake at all before it collided with Mr Raguckas’s vehicle.

Henry James, mitigating, said Spencer was struggling to understand how he did not see the car.

Mr James said his client had taken the appropriate breaks and was travelling at 50mph using his vehicle’s cruise control.

He said: He is struggling to find out what went wrong. He was tired and many people do drive tired. For whatever reason he did not see the hazard lights in front of him.”

Mr James said his client had been intending to stop at the Watford Gap services for a break.

His Honour Judge Rupert Mayo said there was no sentence he could pass that would compensate the loss of Mr Raguckas and said, as a professional driver, Spencer had a ‘duty of care’ to other road users.

He said: “You knew you were tired and you may well have nodded off. You were driving through the roadworks area using cruise control while tired making you a substantial risk of danger to other road users.”

Spencer, of Windsor Avenue, Crewe, was sentenced to four years in jail. He is liekly to serve half his sentence in custody before being released on licence.

He was disqualified from driving for seven years and must take an extended retest before he can drive again.