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Friday, June 11, 1999 Published at 15:53 GMT 16:53 UK


Driver denies re-enacting Speed movie

Michael Rayner denied he was enjoying the drama

A lorry driver charged with dangerous driving after his vehicle's accelerator jammed on a busy motorway has rejected a suggestion that he was trying to re-enact a scene from the film Speed.

The BBC's Valerie Jones: "It is accepted there was a fault with the vehicle"
Michael Rayner's lorry sped along the M1 for 20 miles before being driven into crash barriers in May last year.

The lorry had a genuine accelerator fault, but the prosecution at Harrow Crown Court, west London, say Mr Rayner made the most of the situation as he was "enjoying the drama".

[ image: Keanu Reeves starred in the movie Speed]
Keanu Reeves starred in the movie Speed
But Mr Rayner denied prosecution claims on Thursday that he was deliberately re-enacting the Keanu Reeves blockbuster Speed - in which a bus was unable to go below 50mph due to a bomb on board.

Prosecutor Crispin Aylett asked Mr Rayner: "Did it occur to you during your crisis that this was just like something in the film?"

Mr Rayner said: "It was not fun at all. I was scared half to death, I thought I was going to die."

He told the court that his only concern was to bring the lorry, which was delivering rubbish to a landfill site, to a halt without killing himself or anyone else.

He admitted, though, that during his journey he had deliberately disabled a speed limiter designed to prevent the lorry from going above 56mph.

Hailed a hero

Mr Rayner said he had been shown how to override the device on his first day at work, less than a year before the incident.

He said "Their expectation was to get as many loads in as they could."

Mr Rayner was initially hailed a hero after the incident for guiding the lorry to safety.

He said that as well as the accelerator jamming, his brakes were unable to slow the lorry down sufficiently to stop its safely.

But accident investigators became suspicicious at the lack of damage to the barrier he had hit at the end of the incident, as they felt that indicated he had been able to slow the lorry down more than he claimed.

Mr Rayner denies one count of dangerous driving.

The trial continues.

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