Lorry driver remanded over M1 death crash

Court artist sketch by Elizabeth Cook of Ryszard Masierak (left) appearing at High Wycombe Magistrates' Court
Court artist sketch by Elizabeth Cook of Ryszard Masierak (left) appearing at High Wycombe Magistrates' Court

A lorry driver facing 20 charges over a motorway horror crash that left eight people dead has appeared in court.

Ryszard Masierak, 31, is accused of being over the alcohol limit when his truck was involved in the incident on the M1 in Buckinghamshire early on Saturday.

Six men and two women in a Ford Transit minibus died after the collision with the Polish driver's Scania lorry and a second lorry, shortly before 3.15am on the southbound carriageway near Newport Pagnell.

Three passengers, including a five-year-old girl, were left fighting for their lives, and a fourth suffered minor injuries in the crash between junctions 15 and 14.

Masierak appeared at High Wycombe Magistrates' Court on Monday.

With short, cropped brown hair and stubble, and wearing a grey custody tracksuit, he listened intently to proceedings via a Polish interpreter as the charges were read out.

He faces eight counts of causing death by dangerous driving, four counts of causing serious injury by dangerous driving and eight counts of causing death by careless driving while over the prescribed alcohol limit.

The court heard that he is accused of having 55mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood. The legal driving limit is 35mg.

Masierak, of Evesham, Worcestershire, made no application for bail and did not indicate how he would plead to the charges.

He was remanded in custody to appear next at Aylesbury Crown Court on September 26.

At one point in court, Masierak wiped away tears with a tissue.

Speaking outside court, Chief Inspector Henry Parsons, from Thames Valley Police, said: "Four people who were injured remain in a serious condition in hospital.

"We have had full co-operation from the two freight companies involved and they are fully supporting us with our investigation."

The minibus driver and owner of Nottingham-based ABC Travels, Cyriac Joseph, who was killed in the crash, was described as an "extraordinary father".

He had been taking a group of people from India to London from where they were due to start a tour of Europe.

Three other fatalities were named on Sunday as employees of IT company Wipro.

A spokeswoman for the firm said: "It is with deep regret and sadness that we confirm the passing away of three of our colleagues, Karthikeyan Ramasubramaniyam Pugalur, Rishi Rajeev Kumar, and Vivek Bhaskaran in a tragic road accident in the UK.

"Another colleague, Mano Ranjan Panneerselvam was critically injured in the accident and we are praying for his speedy recovery.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of all those who lost their lives in this tragedy.

"We will continue to provide all assistance to the families in this hour of grief."