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I didn't fall asleep, jeep driver tells jury; SELBY TRAIN CRASH.

THE motorist accused of causing the deaths of 10 men in the Selby train crash yesterday took to the witness box and repeatedly denied falling asleep at the wheel of his Land Rover.

Gary Hart, 37, said he could remember everything about the accident as his vehicle and trailer plunged down an embankment off the M62 and on to the East Coast mainline on February 28.

Moments later it was hit by a southbound GNER express train travelling at 117mph which then collided with a fully-laden coal train.

During three hours of testimony at Leeds Crown Court, Hart repeatedly denied lying to the police about how much sleep he had before his journey saying he was still in shock when he gave his first interview to officers.

Asked by his barrister Edmund Lawson, QC, if he had fallen asleep Hart replied. "No."

Mr Lawson then said it had been suggested by sleep expert Professor James Horne that he may have fallen asleep at the wheel but may have forgotten about it. "No, that's rubbish, " Hart said.

He later added, "I can remember everything from the moment I heard the noise to phoning the police, everything that happened to me as I travelled down the embankment."

Earlier in the trial the prosecution alleged Hart had spent all night before the accident chatting to a woman, he had met on the Internet, Kristeen Panter.

Asked by James Goss QC, prosecuting, about the five-hour-long telephone conversation Hart told the jury he said it left him "buzzing".

He said, "I think it was with having spoken to Kristeen Panter that long. It was in anticipation of probably what was to come later in the relationship."

Six commuters and four railway staff lost their lives in the disaster.

Hart, of Strubby, Lincolnshire, denies 10 counts of causing death by dangerous driving.
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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Dec 7, 2001
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