An HGV driver has been found guilty of causing death by dangerous driving after an investigation into his sleep history showed he was liable to fall asleep “in monotonous situations”.
Essex police officer PC Tris Baker was off duty while travelling on the A1060 in Roxwell in September 2021 when the car he was driving was struck by a lorry driven by Robert Harrison. Baker died at the scene.
Harrison, 38, was charged with causing death by dangerous driving, but at his first court hearing he admitted the lesser charge of causing death by careless driving.
However, a decision was made to pursue the more serious charge, and following a 4-day trial, the HGV driver was found guilty.
As part of the investigation into Harrison’s sleep history, it transpired that he was vulnerable to falling asleep in monotonous situations such as driving on a familiar road, sleeping only between 5 and 6 hours per night and requiring strong doses of caffeine in order to carry out his day-to-day responsibilities. He will be sentenced on 20 July.
Detective inspector Mark Fraser, who led the investigation, said: “Harrison’s actions led to Tris, who was deeply loved by his friends and family, losing his life on 23 September 2021.
“Although Harrison pleaded guilty to the death by careless driving offence, the evidence indicated that this incident was dangerous driving as opposed to careless driving.
“We pursued the more serious charge and today the jury has returned a guilty verdict, which matches the gravity of the situation.”