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EDITIONS
Friday, 11 January, 2002, 22:29 GMT
Selby driver jailed for five years
Gary Hart arriving at court with wife Elaine
Gary Hart arriving at court with wife Elaine
The driver found guilty of causing the deaths of 10 people in the Selby rail crash has been jailed for five years.

Gary Hart was convicted last month of 10 charges of death by dangerous driving. He had denied the charges.

Hart, 37, of Strubby, Lincolnshire, showed little emotion as he was sentenced at Leeds Crown Court.

Mr Justice Mackay said the Selby rail crash was "perhaps the worst driving-related incident in the UK in recent years".

Crash scene
Ten people died in the crash

Some relatives and survivors said they believed Hart had got off too lightly.

The train driver who survived the crash, Andy Hill, 40, from Doncaster, South Yorkshire, said: "I'm not very happy. I thought it would be longer."

Lee Taylor, the widow of GNER chef Paul Taylor, of Longbenton, Tyne and Wear, said Hart deserved to be jailed for at least 10 years - one year for each person killed.

Asleep at the wheel

Hart's Land Rover plunged off the M62 motorway onto the East Coast main line at Great Heck, near Selby in north Yorkshire, on 28 February.


You either actually knew or could be expected to have known... you were at risk of falling asleep and, notwithstanding that, you carried on

Mr Justice Mackay

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

The freight train's driver Steve Dunn and six commuters were among the 10 men who died as a result of the crash. More than 70 people were injured.

The trial heard that Hart had fallen asleep at the wheel after spending the previous night talking on the phone to a woman he met on the internet.

Mr Justice Mackay said: "In my judgment, you [Hart] were not the victim of the Selby rail crash... you were the cause of it."

'Selfish and arrogant'

The judge told Hart he had taken a "grave risk" by continuing his journey on the M62 when he was "fighting sleep back".


His inability to accept that he had fallen asleep is a major source of resentment to the many bereaved

Superintendent Nick Bracken
British Transport Police
"You either actually knew or could be expected to have known, from feelings of sleepiness that you were experiencing, that you were at risk of falling asleep and, notwithstanding that, you carried on."

He said Hart had been wrong in his "arrogant claim" that he was not like other people and could drive safely with little sleep.

The judge added that there was, in moral terms, little difference between the actions of a drink-driver and those of a sleep-deprived driver.

But he said Hart would be haunted by what happened for the rest of his life.

'Campaign of lies'

Hart's wife Elaine, looking distressed, ran out of the courtroom as soon as the sentence was passed.

Earlier, Edmund Lawson QC, defending, said Hart had shown remorse and was still haunted by the accident.

He read out part of a statement Hart made to his defence team in which he said: "I'd like to say I feel great sorrow for all the people who were injured and for the families of all the people who lost their lives."

But Superintendent Nick Bracken, of the British Transport Police, said outside court that Hart had been "selfish" in his actions which caused the accident, and had lied after it.

"Gary Hart did not admit his actions and embarked upon a campaign of lies, to the police, insurance companies and others, that he had not fallen asleep.

"His inability to accept that he had fallen asleep is a major source of resentment to the many bereaved and today's apology is to many too little too late."

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Kevin Bocquet in Leeds
"The judge said driving while severely deprived of sleep was as bad as drink driving"
British Transport Police's Supt Nick Bracken
"No prison sentence can return the lives of the 10 men that died"

Key stories

Background stories

KEY COURT STORIES

IN PICTURES

CLICKABLE CRASH GUIDE

AUDIO VIDEO
See also:

12 Jan 02 | UK Politics
11 Jan 02 | England
19 Dec 01 | England
14 Dec 01 | England
13 Dec 01 | England
13 Dec 01 | England
Links to more England stories are at the foot of the page.


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