Lorry driver caused A19 death crash after missing turn-off, court told

A lorry driver caused a fatal crash when he brought his vehicle to a sudden stop after he missed a turn-off, jurors have heard.

Tuesday, 14th January 2020, 2:06 pm
Updated Tuesday, 14th January 2020, 5:36 pm
Marcel Balan

Marcel Balan, 57, had planned to reverse his Daff HGV along the A19 when John Robinson smashed his Ford Fusion into the back of it, it is claimed.

Newcastle Crown Court heard the force of the collision pushed the lorry eight metres along the dual carriageway and Mr Robinson's Ford went underneath it.

The 24-year-old, from Peterlee, who was travelling home from work, died from severe head injuries.

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John Terence Robinson

Balan, of Cope Street, Barnsley, denies causing death by dangerous driving and causing death by driving without due care and attention and is being tried by a jury.

Prosecutor Mark Guiliani told Balan was out making deliveries on behalf of a coffee bar chain on March 12 last year and had started his shift in the early evening.

Just before the fatal crash, which happened near midnight, Balan had made a delivery at Simonside service station in South Shields and was heading to the Bridges Shopping Centre in Sunderland.

Mr Guiliani said: "The route was in his satellite navigation device, which indicated he should take the A1231 Wessington Way slip road, a route he had taken many times before.

"He was travelling southbound, the road surface was wet, it was dark and there were no road lights.

"He missed his turning and made a harsh stop in the nearside lane, intending to reverse back along the nearside lane to the slip road.

"Before he could commence the reversing, John Robinson, driving his Ford Fusion lawfully, drove into the back of Mr Balan's lorry.

"The force of the collision moved the lorry forward eight metres and the Ford Fusion went under the lorry and Mr Robinson, who was 24, died from serious head injuries."

Mr Guiliani said Balan had brought his vehicle to a stop within about eight seconds and would have used "moderate to heavy" braking to do so.

He added: "To stop at all, let alone to make a stop so quickly when there was no emergency either ahead or behind was not only unnecessary but clearly dangerous.

"The defendant stopped on the nearside lane, at night, on an unlit section of road.

"Three seconds later, John Robinson collided with the rear of the lorry. His car pushed it forward eight metres and ended up underneath."

Mr Guiliani said it is not known why Mr Robinson was unable to avoid the collision with the lorry but here was no evidence he was speeding or distracted in any way and had no alcohol or drugs in his system.

Balan admitted the reverse light was illuminated not because he planned to reverse but because it had a fault.

He told police, with the assistance of a Romanian interpreter, he brought his vehicle to a stop "slowly, slowly slowly" because he had heard a noise and feared his load had come loose and wanted to find a safe place to check if there was a problem.

Mr Guiliani added: "The Crown says the defendant made an unnecessary and dangerous stop in eight seconds, not because he thought there was something wrong with his load but because he had missed his junction.

"Contrary to what he told the police in interview, he didn't bring the lorry to a controlled stop over 300 meters but a very quick stop, over a distance of about 66 metres.

"The defendant said he heard a noise which caused him to stop. There was nothing to indicate there was anything in the load that could have caused the noise."

The trial continues.