Cumbria

HGV driver denies being 'distracted' before head-on smash

Maureen Smith Image copyright Family handout
Image caption Maureen Smith had driven in an "impeccable" manner leading up to the accident, prosecutors said

A lorry driver accused of causing a head-on crash which killed a great-grandmother has rejected claims he was "distracted" in the moments beforehand.

Maureen Smith, 86, of Brampton, Cumbria, died when her Ford Panda was struck by Jaroslaw Mieczan's HGV near Carlisle on November 16.

Mr Mieczan, who was wearing flip flops at the time of the crash, told Carlisle Crown Court: "I pay attention."

The Polish national, 44, denies causing death by dangerous driving.

Jurors heard his Mercedes HGV was travelling at 54mph (87kmh) - 4mph (7kmh) above the limit for lorries.

'Too fast'

Mr Mieczan, from Molodiatycze, Trzeszczany, told the court he did his best to avoid Ms Smith and a Ford Fiesta driven by 19-year-old Jason McAleese.

The jury heard the HGV hit Ms Smith's car on the A689 after swerving to avoid Mr McAleese's Fiesta, which had braked and indicated to make a right turn.

He said: "I tried to avoid the collision. I pay attention.

"I didn't meant to hurt either the young guy or the lady."

He "didn't care back then" about whether he would end up dead, injured or disabled, he said.

"I did my best," he added.

Mr McAleese told jurors he had seen the HGV going "too fast" in the moments leading up to the crash.

He said he had feared he was "going to die" as the lorry approached him from behind.

Earlier in the trial, prosecutors said Ms Smith's driving was "impeccable" and added "no blame can be directed at her when considering how the accident was caused".

The trial continues.

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