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Thursday, 13 December, 2001, 18:20 GMT
Selby crash driver guilty
Gary Hart
Gary Hart said he often went 36 hours without a break
The motorist accused of falling asleep and causing the Selby train crash has been convicted of 10 charges of causing death by dangerous driving.

Gary 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.

I just want myself and the boys to be able to get on with life from now on

Mary Dunn
Hart has been released on bail and will be sentenced next month. The judge, Mr Justice Mackay, said it was inevitable that he would receive a substantial prison term.

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

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".

Speaking after the announcement, relatives of people injured and killed in the crash spoke of their relief that the case was over.

Many said it was now time for them to start trying to rebuild their lives.

Rachel Spadoney, who husband Jain was seriously injured in the crash, said: "There is nothing I can say that can make anyone appreciate exactly what our family has been put through."

The families thanked the police, emergency services, medical staff and Railtrack for their support since the crash.

Medical reports

Mary Dunn, whose husband Steve died driving the coal train involved in the crash, said she was relieved it was all over.

Selby train crash
Ten people died in the crash in February
Friday, which would have been her husband's 40th birthday, was "the beginning of a new start" for herself and her two children, she added.

As the guilty verdicts were read out, Hart held his head in his hands. He then slumped in the dock and stared intently at the floor.

Immediately after the verdict, the defence team recommended that a psychologist's report on Hart be drawn up before he was sentenced.

Hart, 37, from Strubby in Lincolnshire, had denied the 10 charges of causing death by dangerous driving.

'Hectic' lifestyle

But the jury at Leeds Crown Court heard evidence Hart had fallen asleep at the wheel after the night spent on the telephone to Kristeen Panter, a woman he had met via an internet dating agency eight days before the crash.

The self-employed building contractor was on his way from Lincolnshire to Greater Manchester when the tragedy happened.

He was driving a Land Rover pulling a trailer which was carrying a Renault.

Hart claimed he was helpless to prevent his vehicle veering off the motorway because it had suffered a mechanical fault or hit something lying in the road.

Clear evidence

Teams of experts spent three weeks examining the crushed vehicle looking for the smallest detail which would point to the cause of the crash.

It became apparent that there was nothing wrong with Hart's vehicles.

Speaking outside Leeds Crown Court, Detective Superintendent Peter McKay from North Yorkshire Police said: "Gary Hart was convicted on the clearest of evidence.

"He could have avoided these deaths, he did not, he alone was responsible."

A documentary, 'I did not fall asleep', The inside story of Selby, is being shown at 2235 GMT on Thursday on BBC1.

The BBC's Kevin Bocquet
"Gary Hart had an extraordinary lifestyle"
The BBC's Robert Hall
"He regularly went without sleep"
Peter McKay of North Yorkshire Police
"Gary Hart was convicted on the clearest of evidence"

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13 Dec 01 | England
13 Dec 01 | England
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