Defendant and jury visit Selby crash scene

By Ian Herbert,North
Wednesday 05 December 2001 01:00

The man accused of causing 10 deaths in the Selby rail disaster descended solemnly to the scene of the crash – following the jurors who will rule if he is guilty.

Wearing a fluorescent North Yorkshire police jacket over his suit, 37-year-old Gary Hart appeared pensive as he retraced the path his L-registered Land Rover Defender took, with him at the wheel, on the morning of the disaster.

The vehicle slid from the westbound M62 motorway, down the embankment and came to rest near the railway line with its trailer blocking the track, a series of events which culminated in the derailment of a GNER express.

Carrying a black umbrella and holding guy ropes, Mr Hart followed the jurors down purpose-built steps and along plastic matting at the bottom of the embankment towards the railway line. He said little and remained noticeably close to his barristers, Edmund Lawson QC and Gordon Aspden, for the duration of the visit. He occasionally pointed towards the track before returning to the waiting coach.

Two express trains and a coal wagon passed along the track during the 40 minutes that Mr Hart was there.

He and the jurors were prevented from getting close to the track by large metal cages filled with stone, but the jurors talked among themselves for several minutes before returning to the top of the embankment, ahead of Mr Hart.

The jury of seven women and five men, who left Leeds Crown Court at 10.45am for the 43-mile journey in a 40-seater coach, were visiting as part of their deliberations in the trial of Mr Hart, who denies 10 counts of causing death by dangerous driving – one for each of the victims of the disaster. They were accompanied by the judge, Mr Justice Mackay, and the defence and prosecution teams

They arrived under a police escort shortly after midday, following the closure of two westbound lanes of the M62 for their protection, and were all issued with fluorescent bibs.

Their arrival at the scene was delayed as traffic queues built up on the motorway because of the lane closures.

After leaving the coach, members of the jury also took several minutes to look at tyre marks left in the embankment by Mr Hart's Land Rover and trailer. Police had covered the tracks with a green-and-blue-coloured plastic to make them easier to trace in the grass. A single cone was placed on the motorway where Mr Hart's vehicle had left the carriageway before travelling down the embankment.

The trial resumes today.

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