Lorry driver, 75, guilty of killing couple

A 75-year-old lorry driver who ploughed into a car in a queue of traffic, killing a married couple, was today convicted of causing death by dangerous driving.

John Leadenham failed to stop and hit a queue of stationary traffic on the M1 near junction 24a on October 7 2008.

Leicester Crown Court heard one motorist managed to move out of the way on to the hard shoulder as he saw the lorry approaching, but Leadenham's lorry clipped another car.

It then collided with a silver Peugeot, pushing it underneath a lorry in front, before Leadenham swerved, eventually stopping 69 metres ahead.

The crash killed Paul and Doreen Tomlinson, 66 and 64, from Glen Parva, Leicester.

Leadenham denied both charges, but today a jury at Leicester Crown Court unanimously convicted him of two counts of causing death by dangerous driving.

The court heard traffic on the M1 southbound had slowed down, coming to a stop because of an accident ahead.

But prosecutor Jonathan Spicer said analysis of the scene showed Leadenham's lorry, pulling a Coca Cola Zero trailer, only started braking 17 metres before the queue of traffic in front of him, allowing just 3/4 of a second before impact.

Leadenham, of Walton Way, Harlaxton, Grantham, who was 74 at the time of the crash, told the court he did not really know what had happened that day and could not rule out having nodded off.

He said he was still working to help his daughter, who was suffering from cancer.

A spokesman at Leicester Crown Court today confirmed the case was adjourned for pre-sentence reports to be prepared and Leadenham was granted bail until sentence on February 15.