Page last updated at 19:20 GMT, Tuesday, 10 February 2009

M6 crash bodies 'unrecognisable'

Paulo Jorge Nogueira da Silva
Jorge Nogueira da Silva denies causing the deaths of the Statham family

A police officer has told a jury that a motorway crash was so horrific a doctor could not identify how many people had been travelling in the vehicle.

The remains of David and Michelle Statham, of Llandudno, north Wales, and their four children had to be removed from the wreckage by specialist teams.

They died instantly in a crash on the M6 in Sandbach, Cheshire, in October.

Portuguese lorry driver Paulo Jorge Nogueira da Silva, 46, denies causing death by dangerous driving.

'Enormous collision'

He is accused of six counts of death by dangerous driving and also denies six alternative charges of causing death by careless driving.

Sgt David Cox, motorway supervisor for Cheshire Police, was one of the first officers at the scene.

He told Chester Crown Court that the Stathams' car had been pushed under a Volvo lorry which was ahead of them in the queuing traffic.

David Statham and his wife Michelle (top left) with their four children Jay (top right), Mason (bottom left); Reece, 13, and Ellouise (bottom righ
The Stathams were killed instantly in the crash

Michelle Statham, a financial adviser, was driving home with husband David, 38, a chef, their sons Mason, 20 months, Jay, nine, and Reece, 13.

They had been to see family and friends in Birmingham to show them their 10-week-old baby Ellouise.

Mr da Silva was at the wheel of an articulated lorry taking fruit juice from Murcia in Spain - where he lives - to a supermarket distribution centre in Northwich, Cheshire.

His defence will claim the family was already dead when his vehicle struck their Toyota Previa because Mrs Statham had crashed into the Volvo lorry seconds earlier.

Mr Cox told the jury that the road conditions on the night of the crash were "excellent".

He said there would have been a clear view of the road in the run-up to the place where the fatal crash happened.

Mr Cox told the court "an enormous collision" had separated the body of the Stathams' Toyota from its chassis.

'High velocity'

"Before we moved the Toyota a doctor was called to confirm all the occupants were dead," the police officer said.

"But he couldn't confirm how many people were in the car."

Home office pathologist Dr Brian Rogers, who conducted post-mortem examinations on the Stathams, told the jury that the family suffered some of the most severe injuries he had ever seen.

"The pattern of injuries is consistent with a vehicle being driven at high velocity into the back of the Toyota," he said.

Questioned by Oliver Jarvis, who is defending Mr da Silva, Dr Rogers said it would be impossible to rule out the possibility that the Stathams died in a prior impact to the crash involving the defendant's lorry.

However, Dr Rogers told the jury that he would not have expected all six family members to have died in those circumstances.

The trial continues.

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