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Soldiers killed by lorry driver crash, trial hears
4:55pm Wednesday 4th September 2013 in News
A LORRY driver has gone on trial accused of killing two soldiers in a crash.
Colin Pattison, 52, failed to slow down when a wagon in front of him broke down in a cloud of smoke – and ploughed into the back of the soldiers’ Land Rover, the prosecution said.
The accident happened on September 1, 2011, on the A66 at Stainmore, near Kirkby Stephen.
Prosecutor Tim Evans told the jury that the two soldiers – Lance Sergeant David Mark Gartland, 40, of the Grenadier Guards and Private James Bell Fair-burn Austin, 24, of the Royal Logistics Corps, died of multiple injuries.
The soldiers’ vehicle had initially collided with a broken down lorry which was emitting smoke so severely that it obliterated both carriageways, the court heard.
They survived the first impact, a jury at Carlisle Crown Court was told, but were then hit from behind and crushed against the trailer of the broken down lorry in front.
Colin Pattison, 52, of Newclose Lane, Goole, North Humberside, denies causing their deaths by dangerous driving.
Mr Evans for the prosecution told the jury that Pattison should have slowed down or stopped.
“How can it be anything other than profoundly dangerous to drive a heavy lorry at 30mph when you are to all intents and purposes blind?” he asked.
Mr Evans said that when questioned by police, Pattison said the smoke, which he called ‘fog’, was as bad as anything he had previously encountered.
“It was like someone had just painted the windscreen out white,” he said.
In evidence, the driver of the broken down lorry, Peter Devlin, from Carlisle, said his wagon lost power on the hill.
Mr Devlin said he parked as safely as he could, with his hazard warning lights flashing, but smoke was coming from the engine.
“He said he was about to get out of the cab when he felt a jolt as a vehicle crashed into the back of his trailer.
But he said he had no idea the Land Rover had also hit him until, with a car driver who had stopped nearby, he walked to the rear of his vehicle.
“That’s when I saw it was carnage behind us,” he said.
The trial is expected to last until tomorrow (Friday).