Workman crushed into boiling-hot tarmac when lorry shed load on top of him

Newcastle Crown Court
Newcastle Crown Court

A workman suffered life-changing injuries after being crushed into boiling hot tarmac when a lorry shed a heavy load on top of him.

Paul Turnbull, 39, suffered life-changing spinal fractures and significant burns when 13 trusses fell from Fraser Rowand's flatbed lorry on January 18, 2016, Newcastle Crown Court heard.

HGV driver Rowand, 37, was making a delivery to a caravan park near Longhorsley in Northumberland, where Mr Turnbull was part of a team laying tarmac at the site entrance at the time of the accident, which left him permanently paralysed from the waist down.

After a trial, Rowand, of Salveson Gardens, Edinburgh, was found guilty of causing serious injury by dangerous driving.

The court heard he had already dropped off some smaller trusses outside the site and was heading through the gates into the caravan park when the heavier trusses came loose and fell onto Mr Turnbull.

Judge Stephen Earl said: "They fell from the lorry and onto Mr Turnbull, crushing him into hot tarmac."

Horrified workers used a forklift to move the trusses, which were crushing Mr Turnbull onto the hot, freshly-laid road surface, and emergency services were quickly on the scene.

Mr Turnbull, from Forest Hall, North Tyneside, was taken to the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle with significant injuries.

Judge Earl said it was "incredible" that the men working in such close proximity to a moving lorry had not been asked to vacate the site entrance "even for a short distance", or for a "mere 30 seconds".

The judge said the accident was the "most tragic 30 seconds" of Mr Turnbull and his family's lives.

Mr Turnbull, who now uses a wheelchair and is paralysed from the waist down, said in a victim statement that his life "has been turned upside down".

The dad-of-two said he can no longer take part in activities he enjoyed: "Simple things, mowing the lawn, taking the dog for a walk, are things I will never be able to enjoy again.

"I feel like my pride and dignity have been snatched away, and I now rely on support from family and friends 24 hours a day."

Judge Earl sentenced Rowand to 20 months' imprisonment, suspended for two years, with 210 hours' unpaid work and a three-year driving ban.

The judge told him: "Nothing in this is deliberate, it is not that you deliberately set out to injure anyone. Frankly, nothing could be further from the truth."

He added: "I hope and pray Mr Turnbull fully understands there is no sentence I can pass which can ever compensate him for his past, present or future pain and suffering."

Sergeant Lynne McKevitt, of Northumbria Police Motor Patrols, said after the case: "The outcome could have been fatal for Mr Turnbull, and had it not been for his own heroic actions in acting quickly to push a colleague from danger, the consequences could have been even more significant.

"Ultimately, this case should act as a stern warning to those working in this type of industry, about the importance of ensuring your load is properly secured before getting behind the wheel of your vehicle."