Coach driver involved in M5 crash was over drink-drive limit

By Carl Jackson Tuesday 12 February 2013 Updated: 13/02 00:16

A MAN has been jailed for six years for two counts of causing death by dangerous driving after a lorry crashed into his coach which had broken down on the M5 motorway near Frankley Services.

Jasminder Dhesi, 50 and from Great Barr, was sentenced today (Tuesday) at Birmingham Crown Court where it also emerged he was over the drink-drive limit at the time of the incident in the early hours of Saturday morning on March 24.

William Mapstone, 65, from Wells in Somerset, who was driving the lorry, died on the day of the crash in hospital and Birmingham man Liaquat Ali, 35, who was a passenger on the coach also died at the scene.

There were around 30 people on the coach with most suffering injuries.

The court heard one man, 29, is still in hospital having had major surgery including having his spleen and part of his digestive system removed.

He also suffered head injuries which mean he can no longer look after himself. The man is due to be moved to a neurological rehabilitation centre which he will likely be in for more than two years.

On the day of the accident, Mr Dhesi, was driving a group of fruit packers from Smethwick to go to work at a factory in Evesham.

He pulled the coach over to the hard shoulder within minutes of entering the M5 at Junction 3 because it lost power.

After a few minutes he successfully restarted it and set out again only for the coach to lose power once more causing Mr Dhesi to retreat to the hard shoulder again.

Again he got the vehicle going but it broke down for a third time on a stretch of the highway with no hard shoulder leaving him and his passengers stranded on the inside lane in thick fog.

Other motorists swerved to narrowly miss hitting the coach which was stationary for a good ten minutes before Mr Mapstone was involved in the crash with it, at around 6.15am.

The court heard Mr Mapstone also tried to swerve, instead of breaking, but caught the right rear side of the coach.

Evidence found the articulated lorry went from 54mph to 0mph in two seconds.

Friends and family of the two deceased men who were in the public gallery today, were shocked and brought to tears when they heard a road side test revealed Mr Dhesi was over the drink drive limit at the scene.

It also emerged he had had a previous conviction for driving under the influence of alcohol in 2000 which caused him to fall asleep and crash into another vehicle.

His Honour, Judge Chambers QC, sentenced Mr Dhesi to six years for each count of causing death by dangerous driving which are to be served concurrently, meaning he will serve just six years in total. He has also received a four-year driving ban.

Judge Chambers also said he was concerned about a lack of remorse from Mr Dhesi who sat silent with his head bowed and eyes closed throughout the hearing.

On sentencing he said: "Both deaths arose out of your dangerous driving.

"Driving onto the motorway as you did clearly caused a substantial risk to other road users and also to the passengers on your bus.

"They were vulnerable. What happened in my judgement was entirely foreseeable and avoidable.

"Dangerous driving occurred when you pulled off the hard shoulder for the second time.

"You didn't appreciate the seriousness of what you were doing and the risk you were creating.

He added Mr Dhesi's previous conviction should have underlined to him that alcohol causes a serious impairment of judgement which 'was what this case is all about'.

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