A UK court today denied bail to a truck driver charged with causing the deaths of eight Indians due todangerous driving and being over the legal drink limit in one of Britain's worst road accidentslast month.
Ryszard Masierak, a Polish national, appeared for a bail hearing before Aylesbury Crown Court today but Judge Francis Sheridan rejected his plea after it also emerged that his licence to drive heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) had been revoked prior to the accident involving two HGVs and a mini-bus.
Masierak, 31, was also found to be over the drink-drive limit and asleep inside his truck on the slow lane of the M1 highway near Newport Pagnell for 12-and-a-half minutes when the accident occurred in the early hours of August 26.
"Just to give you some background, we know that the defendant was stationary in lane one [at the time]. He was in the slow lane, there for 12-and-a-half minutes. The other lorry came up behind. We can go no further at this stage because his co-defendant and those that represent him are not here," Prosecutor Nigel Ogbornetold the court.
Masierak is charged with a total of 20 counts relating to the fatal collision, described in court as one of the worst highway tragedies in the UK in 25 years.
The charges include eight counts of causing death by dangerous driving, four counts of causing serious injury by dangerous driving and eight counts of causing death by careless driving while over the prescribed limit.
Judge Sheridan said: "I am not going to grant bail in this case. This is the most serious road traffic collision which has come before the courts certainly in the last 10 years and the flight risk is enormous.
"The position is that this man was asleep for 12-and-a- half minutes in his articulated lorry in the inside lane, not the hard shoulder, and he was already in excess of the legal limit for driving."
He also adjourned pre-trial preparation hearings for a period of six weeks for Masierak and his co-defendant - the second truck driver involved in the crash who has been bailed.
Both Masierak and 53-year-old David Wagstaff, also charged with eight counts of causing death by dangerous driving and four counts of causing serious injury by dangerous driving, will appear before Aylesbury Crown Court in Buckinghamshire, south-east England, on October 27.
The judge said he had been told in chambers that the families of the deceased needed more time for the last rites of their loved ones.
The bodies of the victims of the fatal collisionhave since been repatriated to India.
The funeral rites for 33-year-old Karthikeyan Pugalur Ramasubramanian, and his 32-year-old wife Lavanyalakshmi Seetharaman; 63-year-old Panneerselvam Annamalai; 58-year-old Subramaniyan Arachelvan and his 50-year-old wife Tamilmani Arachelvan; 26-year-old Vivek Baskaran; and 27-year-old Rishi Rajeev Kumar took place in Tamil Nadu and Kerala last week.
The owner and driver of the mini-bus in which the Indian software engineers and their friends and families were travelling, 52-year-old Cyriac Joseph, had his last rites in Nottingham - where the Kerala-born businessman was based for many years.
Shravathi Ramasubramanian, the four-year-old daughter of Karthikeyan and Lavanyalakshmi who diedin the accident, is said to be "out of danger" but remains in hospital.
Mano Ranjan Panneerselvam, a Wipro employee who lost three of his colleagues in thecrash, and his wife also remain in hospital. Another elder relative of Ranjan's family who had been severely injured has been discharged from hospital.
"They are all on the road to recovery," saidJacob Ravibalan, chair of the World Tamil Organisation (UK) - a group which is providing support on the ground.
Last week, an inquest by Coroner Tom Osborne at the Crownhill Crematorium site on Dansteed Way in Milton Keynes, southern England,had formally identified the victims of the crashas Indians based in the UK and their friends and relatives visiting them as tourists from India.
The group of 11 had been en route from Nottingham to London to catch a Eurostar train for a holiday in Europe at the time of the serious accident.
KarthikeyanRamasubramaniyam Pugalur, Rishi Rajeev Kumar, and Vivek Bhaskaranhad been identified by Indian software company Wipro as its employees who were among those killed in the deadly accident.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)