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Friday, 14 December, 2001, 05:52 GMT
Selby crash driver faces jail
Gary Hart with his wife Elaine
A tearful Gary Hart leaves court with his wife Elaine
The motorist found guilty of causing the deaths of 10 people in the Selby train crash when he fell asleep at the wheel has been told to expect a 'substantial' jail term.

Gary Hart will have to wait until next month to learn his fate after he was convicted of 10 charges of causing death by dangerous driving.

You stand in peril of going to prison and going to prison for a substantial period

Mr Justice Mackay
But the judge at Leeds Crown Court warned the 37-year-old that given the magnitude of the case, prison was inevitable.

He was released on bail on Thursday pending medical reports.

Relatives of the victims and survivors have told how they hope Hart receives a lengthy sentence and spoke of the loss of their loved ones.

Hart's Land Rover plunged off the M62 motorway onto the East Coast main line on 28 February.

A southbound GNER express train collided with the car before being deflected into the path of a fully-laden northbound coal train.

Ten men, six of them commuters, died as a result of the crash at Great Heck, near Selby, in north Yorkshire.

Charges denied

On Thursday the judge, Mr Justice Mackay told Hart: "You stand in peril of going to prison and going to prison for a substantial period."

Widow Mary Dunn
Mary Dunn: Friday would have been her husband's 40th birthday
Hart, 37, from Strubby in Lincolnshire, had denied the 10 charges of causing death by dangerous driving.

But the jury found him guilty on Thursday by majority verdicts.

Relatives of those injured and killed have spoken of their relief that the case is now over.

Julie Shakespeare, whose husband Robert died in the crash, said her life since the father of her four children had died had been a "living nightmare".

"No court case can ever bring Robert back to us and now we want to be left in peace."

Widow Lee Taylor, whose husband Paul was chef on the GNER express service, said Hart deserved a lengthy prison sentence for his "catalogue of lies".

And Mary Dunn, whose husband Steve died driving the coal train involved in the crash, said Friday would have been her husband's 40th birthday.

She said this was "the beginning of a new start" for herself and her two children.

Fell asleep

The jury had heard how Hart had fallen asleep at the wheel after a night spent on the phone to Kristeen Panter, a woman he had met via an internet dating agency.

The self-employed building contractor was driving a Land Rover pulling a trailer carrying a Renault en route from Lincolnshire to Greater Manchester.

Outside the court, police described Hart, who had spent the night before the crash chatting on the phone to a woman, as a "mobile catastrophe waiting to happen".

Detective Superintendent Peter McKay, from North Yorkshire Police, said: "He could have avoided these deaths, he did not, he alone was responsible."

British Sleep Foundation's Professor Neil Douglas
"It is very important to stop driving if you are sleepy"
See also:

13 Dec 01 | England
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