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Wednesday, 5 December, 2001, 14:16 GMT
Selby crash driver 'was not asleep'
Gary Hart
Gary Hart (left) is charged with causing 10 deaths
The man accused of causing the deaths of 10 people in the Selby train crash told police he had not fallen asleep at the wheel, a court has heard.

Gary Hart's Land Rover plunged onto the East Coast mainline causing two trains to collide on 28 February.

In a police interview played to Leeds Crown Court, Mr Hart told officers he knew the symptoms of dozing off at the wheel, and he would have pulled over if he had felt tired.

Asked if he had fallen asleep, Hart replied: "No, I wasn't asleep."

Emergency services surveyed the wreckage
The GNER express train hit a coal train

The prosecution claim Hart fell asleep at the wheel after spending the previous night chatting to a woman he had met on the internet.

Mr Hart said he was "in shock" when he had told police on the day of the crash that he had actually had between two-and-a-half and three hours sleep.

He said: "I have told the truth all the way through."

But detectives said: "You haven't told the truth all the way through because you lied about having had sleep."

He replied: "I was in shock at that point."

He was also asked if he had been dozing at the wheel.

He replied: "I was alive, I was fully aware of what was happening.

'Nothing to hide'

"Something happened to the Land Rover and I want you to tell me what it was."

Hart told officers he had not given much thought to the amount of sleep he had had the night before the accident, but maintained he did not fall asleep at the wheel.

"I was not asleep... I'm telling you I wasn't asleep.

"I know the symptoms - when I get tired I pull over. I wasn't tired.

Hart was then asked if he had had other things on his mind as he was driving.

He said he was thinking about Kristeen Panter, the woman he had met over the internet.

He had planned to meet her that evening, but he told officers: "She wasn't playing on my mind.

"I was aware of everything that was going on around me."

Hart said he had "nothing to hide" and said his lifestyle "dictates I can go 36 hours no problem".

The jury of seven women and five men has heard how Hart's Land Rover and trailer left the M62 near the North Yorkshire village of Great Heck, before it was hit by a southbound GNER express train travelling at 117mph.

That train then collided with a fully-laden coal train carrying 1,600 tonnes of coal.

Ten men, six of them commuters, were killed.

See also:

04 Dec 01 | England
Selby jury visits crash scene
03 Dec 01 | England
Selby disaster was 'sleep related'
29 Nov 01 | England
Selby families hear 999 call
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