Monday, June 7, 1999 Published at 17:51 GMT 18:51 UK
Lorry driver 'faked' M1 drama
Mr Rayner was initially praised by police for averting a major crash
A lorry driver hailed as a hero for averting a major incident when his juggernaut went "out of control" has been accused of faking the entire incident.
Michael Rayner deliberately "thundered" down the M1 for 20 miles after his vehicle developed a fault because he was "enjoying" the unfolding drama, Harrow Crown Court was told.
Prosecutor Crispin Aylett said Mr Rayner, who denies one charge of dangerous driving, could easily have stopped the 38-ton vehicle as it sped along at up to 75mph.
But he said the 37-year-old, of Potters Bar, Hertfordshire, came to a halt only when officers warned him that he was "running out of road".
Opening the case, Mr Aylett told the six man, six woman jury that the incident began shortly before 1100 BST on 10 May last year.
The driver, who had received his heavy goods vehicle licence less than a year earlier, was returning from delivering a consignment of rubbish to a landfill site in Bedfordshire.
'List of excuses'
As he passed junction 11 heading south towards London he dialled 999 to say he "had a bit of a problem" with his Scania lorry.
"My accelerator peddle has stuck and my brakes won't slow me down," he complained. "I am doing 70...and the traffic is building up in front of me."
Mr Aylett said the operator then suggested a series of steps he could have taken, such as switching the engine off, or putting the gears into neutral.
But each time, he alleged, Rayner maintained that was not possible, saying that his brakes did not work, that his engine could blow up or that he could lose the ability to steer his vehicle properly.
He was joined by several police vehicles and a helicopter as he "thundered" down the centre lane. With his mobile phone cutting out repeatedly, officers shouted instructions at him through open windows.
Finally, he did "what the prosecution say he could have done a lot earlier - turn the engine off and bring the vehicle to a halt on the hard shoulder".
The barrister told the court that in doing so the truck tore up about 16m of crash barrier.
But accident investigators calculated that in normal circumstances a lorry travelling at that speed would have damaged about 100m.
"The prosecution suggests that the defendant used the brakes which were working perfectly to bring the vehicle to a stop," Mr Aylett said.
The trial continues.