Death crash lorry driver’s sentence upheld

Court news
Court news

A Long Sutton lorry driver who was ‘distracted’ when he caused a young motorist’s death got the sentence he deserved, senior judges have ruled.

Rafal Czarniewski (31), of Bridge Road, was convicted of causing the death of Marcin Zaleski by dangerous driving.

He was jailed for three and a half years at Oxford Crown Court on November 11 last year and banned from driving for four years.

The fatal crash took place on the A420 at Faringdon on January 8 2015, London’s Appeal Court heard today.

Czarniewski was driving a large articulated lorry, while Mr Zaleski was behind the wheel of a Ford transit van travelling in the opposite direction.

The lorry ploughed into the van on the ‘wrong side of the road’, Sir John Saunders told the court.

It had been trying to avoid a stationary BMW which had stopped as the driver was waiting to turn right.

Czarniewski did not see the BMW in time ‘because he was not paying attention and was distracted from his proper concentration on the road ahead’.

The judge described Mr Zaleski as a ‘young man who was in this country to try and make a successful life for himself’.

Czarniewski had been working as an HGV driver in the UK for some years, had a clean licence and no convictions of any sort.

He was ‘remorseful’ for the ‘sad consequences of his lack of attention’, said Sir John,

His lawyers argued that both his jail term and driving disqualification were far too tough and ought to be cut.

His ‘period of inattention must have been for no more than four seconds’, the court was told, and the long driving ban would affect his employment prospects.

But Sir John, sitting with Lord Justice Hamblen and Judge Nicholas Cooke QC, said it was ‘impossible to say’ Czarniewski’s jail term was too long.

“We do not consider the length of the disqualification in all the circumstances of this case was manifestly excessive,” he added.

“It was a very bad piece of driving, driving a very heavy lorry, which had very serious consequences and in all the circumstances the appeal is dismissed.”