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Victim's father still angry as M42 crash driver is jailed.

A Midland lorry driver has been jailed for his part in the country's worst motorway pile-up in which a student returning from a Mother's Day visit was killed.

Three people including 21-year-old undergraduate Miss Lisa Dodson died in the March 1997 crash involving 160 vehicles on the fogbound M42 in Worcestershire.

And as David Fairclough was jailed for three months yesterday, Lisa's father blamed speeding lorry drivers for her death.

"Lisa was a totally innocent victim," said Mr Roger Dodson.

"The accident was caused by the excessive speed of lorry drivers. I hope those involved can live with their consciences."

Fairclough (46), of Seaton Close, Wednesfield, was jailed by Worcester Crown Court after admitting dangerous driving.

He was also banned from driving for four years and ordered to pay pounds 700 costs.

The prosecution accepted his not guilty plea to causing death by dangerous driving.

The court heard Fairclough's 22-ton lorry braked from 50mph to 36mph before ploughing into vehicles brought to a standstill by fog and crashes on the opposite carriageway of the motorway at junction 1 near Bromsgrove.

His lorry rammed a 38-ton tanker which landed on Miss Dodson's Peugeot 205.

Miss Dodson, who was on her way back to Loughborough University after visiting her parents' home in Chaddesley Corbett, Worcestershire, for Mothering Sunday, died instantly from asphyxiation.

Fairclough told police he could not remember anything about the accident. He could only recall filling up the lorry at about 6am that day and then waking up in hospital.

He suffered a badly broken leg, a brain injury meant his 25-year career as a lorry driver was over and he still suffers panic attacks, the court heard.

In the disaster, which started at 6.20am on March 11, an inferno of blazing vehicles erupted on the southbound lanes following six multiple collisions on both carriageways. The motorway was closed for 27 hours.

Mr Colman Treacy QC, defending, said Fairclough's speed had been similar to others before he was confronted by a sudden bank of fog.

Mr David Farrer QC, prosecuting, said they were accepting Fairclough's not guilty plea to causing death by dangerous driving because the series of impacts meant it was impossible to establish which had caused Miss Dodson's death.

Sentencing Fairclough, Judge Michael Mott told him "perfect justice" could not be done because no one had been prosecuted for causing Miss Dodson's death.

But he added: "There were fog signs all over the motorway. This accident was eminently foreseeable. You were driving too fast."

As well as Miss Dodson, Redditch postman Mr Malcolm MacDonald, aged 53, and Ms Margaret Vining, aged 64, of Gloucester, were killed and 20 others injured.

Twenty-nine drivers were prosecuted for various offences. Fairclough is the first to be jailed.

Afterwards, Insp John Stockall, of West Midlands Police, who headed the investigation, said: "I hope this sentence sends a message to all professional drivers to drive to the conditions."
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Author:Aitchison, Neil
Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Apr 8, 1999
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