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TOXIC TRUCKER; Lorry's 80mile poison trail.

Byline: By MAGGIE BARRY

A LORRY driver spread a toxic trail of acid for 80 miles down the west coast.

John Schofield "panicked" and failed to raise the alarm when the leak began near Oban, Argyll.

Instead, Oban sheriff court yesterday heard Schofield, 42, headed for his Glasgow base, passing through several villages and small towns as 1,000 litres of formic acid poured onto the road.

Procurator Fiscal Justin Farrell said: "The acid was extremely poisonous, can cause severe burns and if inhaled can be fatal."

The court heard that a worker splashed in the face with formic acid in a previous incident died.

He said the driver had detailed instructions from his employers Highland Haulage on emergency procedure but ignored them.

A couple driving near Kilninver last April saw the truck in a lay-by and raised the alarm.

Mr Farrell added: "They saw a steady flow of fluid pouring from the side of the lorry. The smell was overpowering." Police found a sale note in the lay-by and contacted his bosses, who phoned and stopped him near Arrochar.

Two major roads - the A83 at Arrochar and the A816 were closed for six hours while firefighters in protective gear hosed them down.

Schofield and six other people were taken to hospital. He admitted recklessly driving in the knowledge a hazardous cargo was leaking and failing to notify emergency services.

Defence lawyer David MacNeill said: "A loose pallet punctured the container. Mr Schofield simply panicked." Sheriff Douglas Small told Schofield, of Thornliebank, Glasgow: "I am utterly astonished you continued to drive when you knew a dangerous substance was leaking from your lorry and putting people at risk.

"It was fortunate nobody was seriously injured.

The father-of-three was given 160 hours community service. It is understood he has kept his job.

m.barry@mirror.co.uk
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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Mar 5, 2008
Words:305
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