Tayside and Central Scotland

Fatal lorry crash driver was heroin addict for 19 years

A lorry driver who died after crashing into the back of a stationary motorway warning lorry had told paramedics he had taken a bag of heroin the night before the crash.

John Paul Pratt was fatally hurt in the crash on the M80 near Denny in 2012.

A Fatal Accident Inquiry heard that he had been a heroin addict for almost 20 years, and had drugs in the lorry.

Sheriff Craig Caldwell criticised the loophole in the system which saw Mr Pratt able to obtain an HGV licence.

Medical staff found two bags of heroin, a bag of diazepam and drug-taking paraphernalia inside the crushed cabin of the lorry following the crash on 29 May, 2012.

Mr Pratt was rushed to Forth Valley Royal Hospital for treatment, but later died. Two other people hurt in the crash also required hospital treatment, but were later released.

False declaration

Mr Pratt, of Bishopbriggs, had been addicted to heroin since 1993, and his doctor was aware of this.

However, when applying to the DVLA for a Class 2 licence to work as an HGV delivery driver, he falsely declared that he did not have any drug or alcohol dependencies and was not examined by his own doctor.

The Crown and DVLA claimed at the inquiry that his GP, Dr James Keddie, should have advised the authorities of Mr Pratt's addiction.

Sheriff Caldwell pointed out that due to the "self-certification" system currently in place, Dr Keddie had never been consulted and was never aware that Mr Pratt had applied for or been granted a licence.

He instead called on the DVLA to change their procedures so applicants have to be signed off by their own doctor before being granted a licence.

He said he was "significantly unimpressed" by the "depressing degree of bureaucratic obstructionism" in the current system which meant the loophole could only be closed by changing both the law and the terms of GP's contract.

A spokesman for the DVLA said it would consider the Sheriff's recommendation.

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