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Friday, 24 October 2014

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West Cumbrian man cleared of causing trucker's death

A motorist who was accused of causing the death of a lorry driver in a head-on crash has walked free from court.

pthaywardcleat
Cleared: Peter Hayward

Related: Medical reasons for crash unlikely, Carlisle court told

Peter Hayward, 53, of Mill Hill, Cleator Moor, was cleared by a jury of causing the death of lorry driver Craig Wood, 43, by careless driving.

Mr Hayward had denied causing the death of Mr Wood following a crash on the A595 at Bothel in May 2012.

Mr Wood, from Crook in County Durham, suffered a broken leg following the crash and died weeks later following complications.

During the trial the court heard that before he died Mr Wood gave police his account of the accident.

At Carlisle Crown Court Mr Hayward was found not guilty of two charges – causing death by careless driving as well as the lesser, alternative, charge of careless driving at the and of a four-day trial.

Judge Paul Batty QC told relatives of Mr Wood: “The court is extremely grateful to the family for their dignity during what must have been an extremely difficult case. I hope they are better informed over what occurred.”

The crash in May 2012 was on the A595 at the Mealsgate junction.

Mr Hayward, who was also seriously injured, had been travelling north towards Carlisle.

During the trial witnesses described how his black Volkswagen Passat had drifted across into the path of oncoming traffic – narrowly missing a car andmaking a glancing blow to the side of a second before colliding head on with the HGV.

In a statement that was read to the jury Mr Wood described the Passat veering towards him for no apparent reason and that, after the impact, he was thrown around his cab despite wearing a seatbelt.

Defence barrister James Leonard had highlighted the possibility that Mr Hayward had suffered a “medical episode” behind the wheel immediately before the crash causing his car to veer into the oncoming traffic.

Medical experts said it could have been one of four possibilities: an epileptic seizure, a reflex syncope, a cardiac syncope – both commonly known as fainting – or a “micro-sleep”.

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