Lorry driver jailed after crash which killed two men on smart motorway

Ross McGuinness
·2-min read
Prezemyslaw Zbigniew Szuba. See SWNS story SWLEsmart. A lorry driver who hit and killed two men on a smart motorway has been jailed for ten months. Prezemyslaw Zbigniew Szuba, 40, ploughed his 18 tonne HGV into Jason Mercer, 44, and Alexandru Murgeanu, 22, on the M1 in Sheffield on June 7 last year. The court heard the victims had pulled into the slow lane and exited their vehicles in order to exchange details after having a "minor collision".
Prezemyslaw Zbigniew Szuba was jailed for ten months over the deadly crash on the M1 in Sheffield last year. (SWNS)

A lorry driver who caused the deaths of two men in a collision on a stretch of smart motorway has been jailed for 10 months.

Prezemyslaw Zbigniew Szuba, 40, admitted two counts of causing death by driving without due care and attention when he appeared at Sheffield Magistrates’ Court last month.

Szuba, 40, of Adelaide Street, Hull, was sentenced at Sheffield Crown Court on Monday.

Jason Mercer, 44, and Alexandru Murgeanu, 22, died when the lorry ploughed into their stationary vehicles on the M1 near Sheffield on 7 June last year.

Since her husband’s death, Mercer’s wife Claire has mounted a prominent campaign against smart motorways, arguing that he would not have died if there had been a hard shoulder.

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Speaking outside court, she said: “We don’t believe the correct person is taking responsible for this massive detrimental effect on ours and so many other people’s lives.

“The events of June 7, 2019, would not have taken place if there had been a hard shoulder and Highways England was run with the correct priorities in mind – not concentrating on who wins the next big contract.”

Undated handout photo issued by Irwin Mitchell LLP of Jason and Claire Mercer. Lorry driver Prezemyslaw Zbigniew Szuba is due to be sentenced on Monday for causing the deaths of two men in a collision on a stretch of smart motorway. Mercer, 44, and Alexandru Murgeanu, 22, died when a lorry ploughed into their stationary vehicles on the M1 near Sheffield on June 7 last year.
Claire Mercer and her husband, Jason, right, one of two men killed in a crash on a smart motorway last June. (PA)
Undated handout photo issued by Irwin Mitchell LLP of Jason Mercer. Lorry driver Prezemyslaw Zbigniew Szuba is due to be sentenced on Monday for causing the deaths of two men in a collision on a stretch of smart motorway. Mercer, 44, and Alexandru Murgeanu, 22, died when a lorry ploughed into their stationary vehicles on the M1 near Sheffield on June 7 last year.
Jason Mercer was killed on a stretch of smart motorway on 7 June last year. (PA)

The magistrates’ court heard how Mercer, from Rotherham, and Murgeanu, from Mansfield, had been involved in a “minor bump” on the northbound carriageway of the M1, between junctions 34 and 35, and had stopped in the slow lane.

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Szuba’s Mercedes HGV “ploughed into both vehicles”.

Prosecutors said the lorry was not speeding and there was no suggestion that the defendant had been drinking or was on drugs.

Nicola Hale, defending, said her client had only just joined the motorway at junction 34 and “it was only for a matter of seconds that the (stationary) vehicles were visible”.

She said the evidence in the case showed Szuba was driving “normally” and well within the speed limit just before the crash.

Imposing the prison term for causing the deaths by careless driving, Judge Jeremy Richardson QC said: “Had there been a hard shoulder, or had the victims driven on for another mile to the refuge, this catastrophe would never have occurred.”