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Thursday, 6 December, 2001, 14:15 GMT
Selby driver tells of 'death threats'
Gary Hart
Gary Hart (left) is charged with causing 10 deaths
The man accused of causing 10 deaths in the Selby train crash has told a jury he received threatening letters after the tragedy.

One of the threats against Gary Hart, 37, was sent to Leeds Crown Court via the fax machine, the jury has been told.

Giving evidence from the witness box, Mr Hart admitted he had not slept the night before the accident.

He denies falling asleep at the wheel of his Land Rover, which plunged down a motorway embankment on to the East Coast Main Line in front of an express train.

The 117mph GNER passenger train collided with a coal train.

'Tremendous pressure'

The jury was told Mr Hart, of Strubby, Lincolnshire, had received a lot of mail, some of which was sympathetic and some which was not.

Defence barrister Edmund Lawson QC said the court case had attracted a series of "cranks and loons" adding: "It also attracts the sort of people who have the nerve to use the court fax machine to sent him threatening letter."

Mr Hart also told the court he had been under tremendous pressure from the media following the accident.

He told the jury that he had photographers and reporters "camped" outside his house and his family were "hounded".

'Crashed out'

"It was pretty horrendous to be honest. They were camped outside my house for the three weeks after the accident."

Mr Hart told Mr Lawson he had had no sleep after "crashing out" for between three-quarters of an hour and an hour in the mid-afternoon the day before the incident.

Mr Lawson said: "Did you sleep again?"

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

Mr Hart replied: "No."

Mr Lawson said: "You did not sleep again before you left the following morning?"

Mr Hart again replied: "No."

He told the court he did not know the two trains had crashed until as late as 2100 GMT - about 15 hours after the incident on 28 February.

Mr Hart said: "I only knew that a train had hit the front of my Land Rover.

"I didn't know two trains had collided until later on."

Asked whether he knew about the train crash at the time of the first police interview, he said: "I didn't know at the time of the interview that any trains had crashed.

Gary Hart
Gary Hart: Denies ten charges

"I asked the officers but they would not tell me anything other than the train had struck my Land Rover."

Mr Hart said he was worried the driver of the express had been killed in the impact with his vehicle.

He said he was deeply in shock at the time of the interview and admitted he had given officers wrong information about how much sleep he had the night before.

Motorway driving 'monotonous'

The 37-year-old, who has three children and a step child, denies 10 counts of causing death by dangerous driving.

Under cross-examination by James Goss QC, Mr Hart agreed that motorway driving was monotonous.

Mr Hart denied he would have driven if he had felt sleepy.

He said: "I wasn't tired at all on that morning. I was buzzing."

The prosecution alleges Mr Hart had spent five hours chatting on the phone to a woman he had met through an internet-dating agency on the night before the crash.

The case continues.

The BBC's Kevin Bocquet
"He said any suggestion that he had fallen asleep was rubbish"
The BBC's Jane Peel
"He said he did not feel tired"
See also:

05 Dec 01 | England
04 Dec 01 | England
03 Dec 01 | England
30 Nov 01 | England
29 Nov 01 | England
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