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Jail for driver who caused West Berkshire police 'catastrophic injuries'

HGV created invisible 'steel wall' across darkened A4

A LORRY driver was jailed today after a police officer suffered “catastrophic” brain injuries in a devastating collision with his HGV.

The 30-tonne vehicle was blocking both carriageways like a brick wall, Reading Crown Court was told this week.

As a result, father-of-three Matthew Midwinter “can’t work, can’t live with his wife and children and requires 24 hour care – and will do so for the rest of his life”.

Car passenger Pc Kieren Baker suffered life-changing psychological trauma, the court heard on Monday, February 22.

Jurors were shown horrific footage from the lorry’s dashboard camera as the police car approached in foggy conditions on the dark A4 Bath Road at Halfway around 11.30pm on February 27, 2019.

The car apparently had no time to brake before ploughing into the huge obstacle.

The collision changed the two officers’ lives irrevocably.

In the dock was 35-year-old Andrei Stan, of Craddock Street, Wolverhampton, West Midlands, who denied driving the 30-tonne lorry and trailer dangerously.

Jurors were told the incident happened after Mr Stan took a wrong turning on his way to Portsmouth and decided to attempt a three-point turn on the unlit, rural A4 in fog – and ended up blocking both carriageways.

Carolina Cabral, prosecuting, said the HGV would have been invisible to an approaching driver, who would have had no chance to avoid a collision.

The lorry was not indicating or showing hazard lights and its side lights were not working, jurors heard.

As a result, it would have been completely invisible to the approaching police car which struck it full on, the court was told.

Ms Cabral said: “It was like a steel wall. Pc Midwinter would have had no time to do anything about it.”

She said that after the crash Pc Baker, pinned in the wreckage and stunned, thought he was dying.

His colleague had been struck on the head, through the car’s shattered windscreen, by a bar on the trailer.

Ms Cabral added: “The car was virtually underneath the HGV trailer.

“Pc Midwinter was covered in blood and wasn’t breathing. Pc Baker tried to open his airway.”

Fortunately, the officer’s breathing resumed, but he remained unconscious.

Despite intensive treatment, she said, Pc Midwinter “can’t work, can’t live with his wife and children and requires 24-hour care – and will do so for the rest of his life”.

Pc Midwinter is married to a former Hungerford neighbourhood police officer, then known as Pc Claire Drewitt,

Ms Cabral said the court would hear from an expert witness that the HGV blocking both carriageways like a wall “wouldn’t have been visible and the car drivers would have just seen the cab headlights as if there was an oncoming car”.

She concluded her opening statement by suggesting the manoeuvre was “something no driver should ever have attempted”.

She added: “It was obvious it was dangerous.

“It was obvious someone was going to get hurt.”

Stan was sentenced to three-and-a-half years’ imprisonment.

Senior investigator officer within the Serious Collision Investigation Unit, Det Sgt Tony Jenkins, said after the sentencing: “During the trial Stan informed the court he did not believe the manoeuvre to be dangerous and he would complete it again. Thankfully, today he has been convicted.

“My thoughts remain very much with the officers involved and their families.

“I further wish to commend the response of all emergency services on the night and the lifesaving actions they completed.”

For more from the case, and a family statement, see next week's Newbury Weekly News.

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