Redditch Motorist Spared Jail After Lorry Driver Killed In M5 Crash
A Redditch motorist who was sleep-deprived and high on drugs and alcohol has been spared jail despite indirectly causing the death of a lorry driver on the M5. Connor McFarland crashed his car and it was then hit by a lorry which burst into flames – killing the HGV driver. GloucestershireLive reports how one of the lorry drivers was killed in the fireball, but McFarland and another trucker who stopped to help survived.
: The best and worst Midlands motorway services McFarland, 22, appeared at court on Tuesday (August 31) and escaped a jail sentence after the judge said he was a “good man with a good future ahead of him”. Gloucester Crown Court heard how the horror crashed happened in September 2020 on the M5 northbound near Junction 9 for Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire.
It was early in the morning when McFarland’s Fiesta crashed into a sign and barrier on the carriageway. An Aldi lorry stopped to help and the driver, Michael Jones, parked behind to protect him and put on his hazard warning lights as he helped McFarland try and push the car onto the hard shoulder. As they did this a Co-op lorry collided with the Aldi truck, causing both HGVs to become engulfed in flames.
The fireball killed the driver of the Co-op lorry, Tomasz Hass, aged 37, from Bristol, who died at the scene. McFarland, of Oldbury Close, Church Hill North, Redditch, pleaded guilty to dangerous driving on the M5 with excess alcohol and a cocaine derivative in his system. Mandla Ndlovu, prosecuting, said McFarland called police at 5.20am on September 13 saying he had crashed his car between Junction 9 and Junction 10 (Cheltenham).
Aldi lorry driver Mr Jones came across McFarland and stopped to help him and the men were in the process of moving the Fiesta onto the hard shoulder when Mr Hass’s Co-op lorry ploughed into them and burst into flames. Sign up for the WorcestershireLive newsletter here McFarland was subsequently arrested and was found to have 66 micrograms of alcohol per 100millitres of breath (the legal limit is 35) and 65 micrograms of benzoylecgonine per litre of blood, a derivative of cocaine (legal limit being 50).
He later gave police a prepared statement making full admissions. He stated that he had been staying at the Ibis hotel in Bristol but when he returned there was insufficient room for him to stay and he made the decision to drive home to Redditch. The subsequent police investigation revealed that McFarland had not slept between 7.30am on September 12 and 5.20am when he collided with the central reservation 20 hours later.
Joe Maloney, defending, said his client phoned the police himself immediately – knowing this would expose him to the officers for being over the limit for alcohol and drugs. Get the latest courts and crime newsletters straight to your inbox every day He said: “He completely regrets his actions and the circumstances surrounding his offending.
I don’t think you will see him before the courts ever again.” The court heard how McFarland had just completed a three-year apprenticeship in civil engineering and will be starting at university in September. Judge Ian Lawrie QC sentenced him to a three year driving ban and an 18 months community order with the requirement to do 100 hours of unpaid work.
He also had to pay GBP350 towards court costs and a victim surcharge of GBP95. The judge said he was sparing him jail, saying: “You are a man of good character with a good future ahead of you. You are intelligent – however, you made a poor decision on the morning in question.
“Most people are entitled to make one monumental mistake in their lives and this was yours.
“You must appreciate that your actions led to the death of a lorry driver.
I fully accept that you have learnt your lesson from this and I am confident the courts will not see you again.”
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