Grantham

Bulgarian lorry driver jailed after causing double fatal A1 crash with ‘stupid’ manoeuvre

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A Bulgarian lorry driver who caused a horrific double fatal crash after carrying out a “stupid” manoeuvre on the A1 has been jailed for 20 months.

Irina Elenkova had been directed off the A1 southbound carriageway as part of a diversion set up due to resurfacing work between Grantham and Colsterworth.

But when she attempted to rejoin the route at Colsterworth she momentarily stopped leaving part of her trailer blocking the outside lane of the northbound carriageway.

Steven Evans, prosecuting, said that Elenkova’s 13.5-tonne truck was struck by a Mini car heading the north.

The driver of the Mini was unable to take evasive action. After the collision the Mini burst into flames.

The driver Mark Lacey and his passenger Alex Sherif were both killed. They were travelling north after setting off from just outside London earlier in the evening.

Mr Evans said that Elenkova, who had only held a licence to drive 13.5 tonne trucks for two months, initially lied to police and claimed her partner Kostadin Tanev was behind the wheel. At the time she had exceeded her driving hours and should have been resting but instead drove on using Tanev’s tachograph card.

The prosecutor said that Elenkova was initially directed by police off the A1 onto minor roads which her truck should not have been on because of weight restrictions.

“Her sat nav told her how to get back on to the A1. Other drivers were doing the same.

“She found herself at the junction with the A1. It was her intention to rejoin the southbound carriageway. She stopped for three seconds and then crossed to the centre of the dual carriageway. Into the middle of the road she went and then she stopped. In that position her trailer was blocking the outside lane of the northbound carriageway.

“Mr Lacey was driving his Mini travelling north with his passenger Alexander Sherif. The Mini collided with the rear of the vehicle. The impact was so severe that the Mini caught fire. Mr Lacey and Mr Sherif died there at the scene.”

Mr Evans said that a witness driving behind Elenkova’s lorry described her manoeuvre as both stupid and dangerous.

Irina Ivanova Elenkova, 37, of Taras Shevchenko, Plovdiv, Bulgaria, admitted two charges of causing death by careless driving in the early hours of October 11 last year and a third charge relating to the tachograph of the lorry she was driving.

She was jailed for 20 months and banned from driving for two and a half years.

Deputy Judge Michael Stokes QC, passing sentence, told her: “I fully understand and accept that what you did in the early hours of October 11 last year was not done deliberately with the intention of hurting anybody.

“This was a tragic incident in which two family men lost their lives in the most horrific fashion. It was essentially by stupidity.

“You were directed off the A1 and were trying to make your way back on to it. You shouldn’t have been driving. You had already exceeded the regulatory period and you should have been resting at the time you did what you did. Although the regulatory breach did not contribute to what happened it is not something I can ignore.”

Kostadin Ivanov Tanev, 41, of the Trakija Complex, Plovdiv, Bulgaria, admitted a tachograph offence. He was jailed for six months and banned from driving for six months.

Michael Cranmer-Brown, for Elenkova, said she had been left devastated by what happened.

“She offers the deepest and sincerest apology. She would do anything to turn the clock back. She made a bad decision. It was an error of judgement.

“She knows she should have been complying with the regulations. She never imagined she was going to find herself in such difficult circumstances. She came her on a job. She has two young children at home. She has had a very difficult time in custody.”

James Gray, for Tanev, said he had pleaded guilty to a regulatory offence of giving his tachograph over to his partner to use.

“He has already done the equivalent of an eight month jail sentence while on remand in custody.”