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Friday, 11 January, 2002, 20:22 GMT
Selby bereaved bear 'great burden'
Detectives with Selby survivors and victims' relatives
Detectives with Selby survivors and victims' relatives
Relatives of those who died in the Selby rail crash have reacted with anger and disappointment to the five-year sentence given to Gary Hart at Leeds Crown Court on Friday.

The father-of-four was convicted last month of 10 counts of causing death by dangerous driving.

His Land Rover plunged off the M62 and on to the East Coast mainline last February near the North Yorkshire village of Great Heck.

Ten men - six passengers, a buffet chef, a senior train conductor and both train drivers - died. More than 70 people were taken to hospital.

Mary Dunn
Mary Dunn, widow of train driver Stephen

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.

"I'm just left wondering where this so-called substantial sentence is.

"Five years is only six months for each victim and he will probably only serve four of them.

"He deserved at least 10 years which would have at least been a year for each person he killed.

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.

"I realise it might have been reduced on appeal, but I thought it would be a longer original sentence."

'Major resentment'

Superintendent Nick Bracken, of the British Transport Police, said "a major source of resentment" to the bereaved was Hart's inability to accept that he had fallen asleep at the wheel.

After the sentence was issued, Edmund Lawson QC, defending, 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 Bracken said the "apology" was "to many too little too late".

He continued: "Today's sentence is a warning of the responsibility that goes with driving a motor vehicle.

"A licence is not a right it is a privilege which brings social responsibility."

"Anyone who drives a car and is unfit, whether through drink, drugs or lack of sleep, turns a car into a potential lethal weapon and that's what happened when this tragedy occurred."

'Great burden'

Detective Superintendent Peter McKay, of North Yorkshire Police, said: "The judge said that no matter what sentence he passed he could not bring lives back and it is impossible to measure misery or transpose that into the length of sentence.

"No matter what he got there are some people who do not think it is long enough."

But in a message to the bereaved he said: "They will have a great burden to bear for the rest of their lives. I hope today's sentence will help them turn over a page of their lives."

Talking about the dangers of driving while tired he said: "The judge sentenced on the basis that the state Gary Hart set out on his journey was the same as if he had set out affected through drink.

"I hope now that society will start to realise that it is just as much a social problem to set out in a sleep deprived state than to set out affected through drink or drugs."

The BBC's Rob Smith
"The train driver who survived the crash doesn't believe five years is long enough"
British Transport Police's Supt Nick Bracken
"No prison sentence can return the lives of the 10 men that died"
See also:

11 Jan 02 | England
Selby driver jailed for five years
14 Dec 01 | England
Selby crash driver faces jail
13 Dec 01 | England
Loss of a child illness expert
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