A LORRY driver ploughed into a line of traffic on the A46 near Stratford, causing life-threatening injuries to a number of people, after falling asleep at the wheel of his artic.
And at Warwick Crown Court Martin Gibson pleaded guilty to five charges of causing serious injury by dangerous driving on the A46 northbound at Bishopton.
His Daf artic ploughed into the back of a line of three cars and a van on May 21 last year, cannoning one of the vehicles into the path of an oncoming motorcyclist who was also badly hurt.
The court heard 54 year-old Gibson, of Bathurst Road, Gloucester, had caused serious injuries to Andrew Hall, Robert and Patricia Giddings, Danuta Balcewicz and Daniel Prince.
His barrister Tom Walkling told the judge Gibson could not recall the incident, but did not believe he was conscious at the time the lorry collided with the other vehicles.
He added Gibson had never previously fallen asleep at the wheel, but in the weeks before the crash he had fallen asleep suddenly at home, and had spoken to his doctor about that.
Mr Walkling said: “He accepts he should not have driven a lorry in those circumstances, but genuinely believed he did not pose a danger.”
Accepting the basis of plea, prosecutor Gareth Walters said: “That is consistent with the evidence, in that during the course of the driving there is a section – of Gibson’s dash-cam recording – which focused on his arm.
“It didn’t move at all. There is no indication at all that he made any manoeuvre prior to the collision.
“His immediate reaction was to say: ‘I don’t know what happened. I must have been asleep.’
“He described in interview how at home he suddenly felt himself falling asleep while sitting watching television.”
At the request of Mr Walkling, the judge adjourned sentence until May 20 for a pre-sentence report to be prepared on Gibson, who was granted bail.
Judge Andrew Lockhart QC Lockhart imposed an interim driving ban on the trucker, who had already surrendered his HGV licence.
Judge Lockhart told him: “You must understand I am making absolutely no observation of what the likely outcome of this matter will be.
“A case like this is very likely to result in a custodial sentence.”
Following the horrific crash during the morning rush-hour at 8.20am, the A46 at Bishopton was closed for around 12 hours.
Two of the victims, four of whom were said at the time to have suffered ‘potentially life-threatening injuries,’ were airlifted to hospitals, while others were taken by ambulance.
A couple in their 60s had to be cut from their wrecked car by the fire service before the woman was airlifted to University Hospital in Coventry with serious abdominal injuries, while the male driver was taken to the same hospital by ambulance with injuries to his neck and back.
A woman in her 60s with cuts to her head also had to be freed from her car, and was taken to the Alexandra Hospital in Redditch.
The driver of a van, a man in his 50s, had managed to get out himself and was lying by his vehicle before being taken by ambulance to University Hospital with a fractured arm.
The motorcyclist, who was in his 30s, was taken by air ambulance to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham, suffering from a broken leg and abdominal and pelvic injuries.
And Gibson was taken by ambulance to Warwick Hospital ‘as a precaution,’ although he was not seriously hurt.