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Wednesday, 19 December, 2001, 13:47 GMT
Selby widow says Hart deserves jail
Gary Hart with his wife Elaine
A tearful Gary Hart leaves court with his wife Elaine
The widow of the freight train driver Steve Dunn, killed in the Selby rail disaster, believes Gary Hart should be sent to prison.

She has called for driving when sleepy to be bracketed with drink-driving in terms of the public's attitude.

Motorist Hart has been found guilty of causing the deaths of 10 people in the smash in February.

He fell asleep at the wheel after spending the previous night talking on the phone to a woman he met on the intertnet through a lonely hearts agency.

Mary Dunn, whose husband Steve died driving the coal train involved in the crash, said: "I think he deserves a prison sentence - it is a very serious offence."

There are 10 families that have to live with his actions

Mary Dunn

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. He faces a jail tem.

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 driven by Steve Dunn..

Matter of conscience

Mrs Dunn, of Brayton, Selby, said: "He (Hart) has been convicted of a very serious offence.

"There are 10 families that have to live with his actions. I am not sure he even sees a link between his actions and the rail accident.

"You can't rely on his conscience to punish him because everyone's conscience is individual.

Widow Mary Dunn
Mary Dunn: Wants new law to tackle "sleep-driving"

"If you use that argument you wouldn't have a justice system - you wouldn't have punishment for anything.

"I would accept there could well have been more public sympathy for a nurse or doctor if they were driving home after finishing a shift.

"But you are personally responsible for your own actions. If you choose to drive when you are over-tired you are responsible for what happens as a consequence of that.

"I am a nurse and I have done nights and I have driven home afterwards. But I did not undertake to do a 140-mile journey without a break - he had opportunity to take a break and did not.

Blood test

"I would like to see driving when sleepy getting the same stigma as drink-driving because the effect on your driving skills and the impairment is the same.

"It is hard to prove because there is no measurement of sleepiness yet.

I would like to see a law introduced but I am not sure how it could be worked.

"Maybe there is a substance in the blood stream that can only be found when you are extremely tired."

Freight train driver Steve Dunn
Steve Dunn: Killed in Selby disaster
And she said those who expressed sympathy for Hart were often not in full possession of the facts from the court case.

She said: "I realise everyone has a right to an opinion. However perhaps those of us who sat through 11 days of evidence have a more informed opinion.

"Before people make emotive comments perhaps they should think about the feelings of those directly involved."

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

The jury found him guilty by majority verdicts.

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

14 Dec 01 | England
Selby crash driver faces jail
13 Dec 01 | England
Loss of a child illness expert
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