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Tuesday, 23 April, 2002, 10:42 GMT 11:42 UK
Wife blames herself for Selby crash
Gary and Elaine Hart outside Leeds Crown Court
Mrs Hart is still sent hate mail for her husband
The wife of the man responsible for the Selby rail disaster has said she thinks the tragedy would not have happened if she had not left him.

Elaine Hart has revealed she sometimes feels to blame for the crash, caused by her husband Gary, which killed 10 people in February 2001.

Mrs Hart stood by her husband during his trial, although the couple were estranged at the time of the tragedy.

Mrs Hart said she still receives mail calling her husband a murderer and feels "sick" every time the phone rings.

I think the [jail sentence] was a moral judgment that was passed on him

Elaine Hart
The jury at Leeds Crown Court found Hart guilty of manslaughter, accepting the prosecution's argument he had fallen asleep behind the wheel.

The court had heard he had been up all night chatting to a woman he met on the internet.

Hart was jailed for five years, but his wife said she still feels she was somehow responsible for his actions.

Speaking to Real Magazine, Mrs Hart said: "Perhaps if I hadn't left Gary five months before, none of this would have happened."

'Ordinary people'

Mrs Hart has since moved back to Louth in Lincolnshire with her daughters, near to where Hart was living before he was jailed.

She said that in the months after the tragedy, Hart said he should have died in the accident.

An aerial view of the crash site at Selby, West Yorkshire
Hart caused the death of 10 people in the crash

Mrs Hart said: "I didn't watch TV or buy newspapers because I couldn't bear to see the victims and read their stories.

"But I knew who they were. Ordinary people like us."

The couple met in 1992, when Elaine was a divorced mother with a five-year-old daughter, marrying four years later after having two more daughters.

They set up a building firm but the relationship came to an end in 1999 and the couple separated.

On the eve of the tragedy, Hart spent the night talking via the internet to Kristeen Panter.

Uncertain future

The following morning he fell asleep at the wheel - his car crashed off the M62, rolled down an embankment on to the railway line, and landed in the path of a Newcastle to London express train.

Mrs Hart said she and her husband got back together in the months after the crash but the future is unclear.

Speaking about the sentence passed on Hart, she said: "I think it was a moral judgment that was passed on him.

"If he'd been up all night because one of our children was ill, instead of talking to a woman he'd met on the Internet, I think he'd be a free man."

See also:

28 Feb 02 | England
Relatives remember Selby dead
25 Feb 02 | England
Call to boost bridge safety
13 Dec 01 | England
GNER remembers Selby 'shockwave'
13 Dec 01 | UK
Selby crash driver guilty
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