Jail for lorry driver who killed RAF pilot Good Samaritan

An HGV driver who caused the death of an RAF helicopter pilot who had parked up on the M40 to help out following a collision, has been jailed for three-and-a-half years.

Malcolm Clarkson pleaded guilty to causing death by dangerous driving after he drove into the back of Scott McConnell’s car between junctions 12 and 13 on 19 November 2019.

McConnell, 26, had stopped to assist after two other vehicles had been involved in a collision and had parked up to await assistance.

Warwick crown court heard how McConnell, who had just qualified as an RAF pilot, was on the phone to Warwickshire police when his car was struck by Clarkson’s Scania at 61mph. A forensic collision investigation report concluded that Clarkson had been talking on a hands free kit moments before the collision and he braked just 24 metres, or one second, prior to the impact.

Police performed CPR on McConnell until paramedics arrived, but he did not regain consciousness and died the following morning in hospital.

Police staff investigator Liam Ryan said: “There is no doubt that being on the phone hands free moments before the collision distracted Clarkson to the extent that he was unable to react to the road ahead as he was not giving it his full attention.”

Ryan added: “Whilst the sentence demonstrates the seriousness of this offence, and Scott’s family can be proud of his actions, unfortunately nothing can bring Scott back to his family.” Clarkson was also banned from driving for six years and nine months.

DVSA swoop on dozens of vans with mechanical defects

The DVSA said it would continue to pursue LCV drivers who put lives at risk, after a road safety operation in the Midlands found 24 vans with mechanical defects.

The operation at Birmingham’s Wholesale Market earlier this month involved checks by agency officers on vehicles entering the Noble Way market. Of the 24 vans flouting the rules, 14 were prevented from driving until their serious defects were fixed and 10 LCVs were overweight. In addition, one HGV did not have a tachograph fitted.

The DVSA also said it would be taking further action after finding the driver of a five-tonne van did not hold the appropriate driving licence and the vehicle did not have the required O-licence and tachograph fitted.

The enforcement agency said an estimated 300 vans enter the Birmingham market site every morning to buy and sell wholesale goods.

Laura Great-Rex, DVSA head of enforcement delivery, said: “DVSA’s priority is protecting everyone from unsafe drivers and vehicles. Many of the vehicles we found to have problems during this Birmingham operation had major mechanical defects or were dangerously overweight. We will always pursue van and lorry drivers who recklessly put the lives of other road users at risk.”

Last year, road transport lawyer Laura Newton raised concerns about overloaded vans and the lack of training by drivers (CM 11 June 2020).