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Jury retires in north Cumbria death crash trial

Mo Smith

[A] JURY in the trial of a lorry driver accused of causing the death of a fellow motorist by dangerous driving near Carlisle has begun its deliberations.

Fiat Panda driver Maureen Smith, aged 86, died at the scene of a head-on crash which also involved an HGV driven by 44-year-old Polish national Jaroslaw Mieczan.

This occurred on the A689, close to the Irthington junction, on November 16.

Mieczan denies causing the pensioner’s death by dangerous driving. After hearing two days of evidence, jurors today (THURS) heard closing speeches and Judge Barbara Forrester’s case summing-up.

“The only explanation is that the defendant was distracted,” said prosecutor Kim Whittlestone. “The evidence points to the fact that he was distracted.”

In response, Mark Styles, for Mieczan, spoke of an “appalling tragedy”, but said to the jury: “What you mustn’t do is just speculate. In my respectful submission, part of the prosecution case is based on speculation rather than solid evidence.”

Judge Forrester said to jurors: “The question for you is: have the prosecution made you sure that the defendant drove the wagon dangerously?”

The test, she stressed, was whether Mieczan’s driving had fallen “far below the standard expected of a careful and competent driver”.

Jurors were told they could also consider a charge of causing death by careless driving as a direct alternative.

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