Extradited lorry driver jailed over fatal crash near St Albans

A lorry driver who fell asleep in a police car after causing a fatal crash has been jailed after being extradited from Poland. Sergiusz Rajca, 40, drove his waste disposal truck into the back of a car at a roundabout near St Albans, killing the driver who was aged in his 60s. He had spent the night before the crash trying to talk to his girlfriend on the phone, St Albans Crown Court heard.

Judge Caroline Wigin said: “Nobody was at any fault that day, except for you”. Rajca started work at 04:00 GMT on 2 March 2020. He was making his second trip from Dunstable to St Albans in a 19.6-tonne waste disposal truck when, at about 09:00 GMT, he failed to brake at a roundabout on the A414 North Orbital road.

Prosecuting barrister, Jessica Goldring, said the truck crashed at 56mph (90kp/h) into the back of an NHS Citroen vehicle driven by Dilip Patel. He suffered multiple injuries and died at the scene. Three other vehicles were damaged in the pile-up that followed, and their drivers were all injured.

Rajca, who had been living in Luton, fell asleep in a car on the way to the police station. Ms Goldring said Rajca was released by the police under investigation and returned to Poland, from where he was extradited three months ago. He pleaded guilty to causing death by dangerous driving.

In mitigation, Joanna Hardy-Susskind said he had no convictions or cautions in the UK or Poland. She said: “He communicates his remorse to the family and to those affected by what they saw. It will not undo the pain he has caused.”

Jailing him for five years and four months, Judge Wigin said: “Although your dangerous driving can be measured in seconds, the behaviour that led to this fatal event began the previous night. “Knowing that at 4am you would be driving a large HGV weighing 19.6 tonnes, you prioritised your desire to speak to your partner. “It was your second trip of the day and you utterly failed to react to a queue of traffic approaching a roundabout.

Nobody was at any fault that day except for you.” Story continues The judge said he would be banned from driving for five years following his release from prison.

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