Page last updated at 19:15 GMT, Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Death crash driver 'saw car late'

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

A lorry driver accused of causing the deaths of a family on the M6 told police he did not see their car until it was too late, a court heard.

David and Michelle Statham, from Llandudno, and their four children died on the M6 in Cheshire last October.

Paulo Jorge Nogueira da Silva said he saw the car's brake lights come on when he was 10 to 20m (11 to 22yds) behind.

Mr da Silva, 46, from Murcia, Spain, denies six counts of causing death by dangerous driving.

The Stathams were on their way back from visiting family and friends in Birmingham when the crash happened as they queued in traffic at Sandbach.

Baby girl

A statement by Mrs Statham's mother Carole Hagans, which was read in court, said the couple had met as teenagers in Sutton Coldfield.

She said the family had been in Birmingham because her son-in-law wanted to take son Reece to an Aston Villa game and also because they wanted to show their family their 10-week-old baby, Ellouise.

The baby girl, who had three older brothers, was "long hoped for", Mrs Hagans said.

She said David Stathams did not drive, but described her daughter as a cautious driver.

The prosecution alleges Mr da Silva's DAF lorry pushed the Statham family's Toyota under a Volvo lorry, killing the couple and their sons Reece, 13, Jay, nine, and Mason, 20 months, and baby Ellouise.

Mr da Silva told police: "I was going on the M6 and I started to see the signs that junctions 17 and 18 were closed and I started slowing down my speed.

"I didn't see brake lights or hazard lights so I didn't see the traffic had stopped."

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

He said it was only when he saw the Toyota Previa's brake lights come on that he realised a Volvo lorry ahead of it in the queue was not moving forwards.

Mr da Silva said: "I broke and hit the car. Then I stopped and jumped out of my cab and got a fire extinguisher."

He says the Toyota had already collided with the Volvo before his lorry struck it.

Mr da Silva said when he braked, his lorry began to skid and he did not have time to avoid the collision.

The prosecution has suggested he may have been using a sat nav system on a laptop computer as he drove.

The remains of the laptop were found in the cab of his lorry.

He told police he never used the laptop when he was driving and said it was switched off at the time of the crash.

Mr da Silva said he had been driving lorries for 21 years and had never had any major problems.

He said he had two points added to his licence after being caught using a mobile phone bluetooth device while driving in Spain.

Sgt David Cox, motorway supervisor for Cheshire Police, told the court that on the night of the crash driving conditions were "excellent".

The trial at Chester Crown Court continues.



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SEE ALSO
M6 crash bodies 'unrecognisable'
10 Feb 09 |  England
Fatal crash driver 'used laptop'
09 Feb 09 |  England

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