AN ARTIC driver who hit a car as he pulled in after overtaking a convoy on the M40, starting a fatal chain of events, has been cleared of responsibility for the young motorist’s death.
George Carr from Digby in Lincolnshire, had denied causing Alex Butwell’s death on the M40 in south Warwickshire in March last year by dangerous driving.
That charge was reduced to one of causing 25 year-old Alex’s death by careless driving following legal submissions during his trial at Warwick Crown Court.
And after deliberating for just an hour and 20 minutes the jury unanimously found the 64 year-old not guilty of that charge.
Judge Sylvia de Bertodano told him: “I hope it has given you some comfort that they have come back so quickly with a unanimous verdict.
“You can leave the court knowing the jury are satisfied you did nothing wrong.”
The judge said Alex’s family had ‘behaved with incredible dignity’ throughout the trial, and told them: “My heart goes out to you. You are living a nightmare we all fear happening to us.
” I hope you don’t go away from here thinking the verdict is any reflection on Alex. It isn’t. Sometimes a tragic accident is just a tragic accident.”
The jury had heard that that in the early hours of Sunday March 23 last year Mr Butwell was among a group of enthusiasts heading to a car show at the Santa Pod raceway.
Mr Butwell, from Tividale, Oldbury, was in his VW Polo with his girlfriend Rachel Crawford in the front passenger seat and a friend, Ashley Gibson, in the back.
After meeting other people at Warwick Services on the M40, they continued south, with Mr Butwell’s ‘gleaming’ Polo, his pride and joy, at the head of an 11 vehicle convoy travelling at around 50mph in the nearside lane.
Mr Carr, who worked for poultry suppliers Moy Park, was also heading south in his refrigerated artic to make a delivery in Banbury when he came up behind the convoy.
He pulled out to overtake the line of cars, but as he pulled back in, he ‘set off a chain of events which led to the death of Mr Butwell,’ said prosecutor Stefan Kolodynski.
The nearside step of the HGV’s cab hit the Polo, sending it spinning in front of the lorry which then shunted it along before it was thrown into the central barrier.
After the car came to rest, with the front against the barrier and the back sticking out into the fast lane, Ms Crawford and Mr Gibson got out of the passenger door.
Unable to see Mr Butwell, they rushed round to the driver’s side where the door was open with no-one inside.
Tragically, dazed Mr Butwell had gone to the rear of the car where he was struck and killed by a BMW being driven by Donald Corrigan who had pulled into the fast lane after seeing the convoy on the hard shoulder with their hazard lights on.
Mr Corrigan, 67, of Butt Lane, Coventry, was charged with causing the 25-year-old’s death by driving without due care and attention, which he denied.
And following the legal submissions a not guilty verdict was entered after the judge ruled, in the light of evidence agreed between prosecution and defence experts, he had no case to answer.