A road rage trucker faces life in prison after being found guilty of murdering an Oldham motorist by deliberately driving his 17-tonne lorry over him following a petty row.
Mark Slater, 46, moved his vehicle into gear and drove over 56-year old Trevor Allen as the older man got out of his Citroen Berlingo to remonstrate with him in the street.
Horrified eyewitnesses saw Mr Allen’s head ‘explode’ and could hear his bones breaking as the grandfather was dragged under the wheels of Slater’s DAF articulated lorry, the jury were earlier told.
As the motorist lay dead in the road, Slater calmly told a 999 operator: “Hiya love – there’s a man seriously injured.”
He later claimed: “He was throwing things at my lorry. He was just throwing things at my lorry and it all started down at the lights.”
Slater had maintained his innocence throughout the trial and remained motionless as the jury delivered their verdict after three hours of deliberations following a six-day murder trial at Chester Crown Court today.
He will be sentenced tomorrow.
He claimed not to have seen Mr Allen at the time and said the whole affair was a tragic accident – but was branded a ‘liar, a coward and a bully’ by the prosecution as he gave evidence from the witness box.
Earlier, the jury were shown damning evidence of Slater’s history of road rage when he was caught on a ‘dash-cam’ furiously kicking and punching the car of another motorist just two months before the February 15 death of Mr Allen.
The victim on that occasion, 24-year-old Jordan Ogden told the jury ‘he looked like he wanted me dead’.
In another incident, a motorist described Slater as behaving like a ‘raging bull’ after an accident on the M62 in January last year when he threatened him from his cab with a Stanley knife.
The murder occurred at 8am on the A57 near Warrington, Cheshire.
Chester Crown Court was told the pair had got into an argument which culminated in them overtaking each other before Mr Allen pulled up in front of Slater’s lorry and stopped in the road.
Mr Allen, from Swinton, near Salford, who weighed 16 stone and was said to be ‘well nourished’ was wearing a high visibility jacket – which the prosecution said made him easy to see from the lorry.
He got out of his vehicle and began walking towards Slater’s truck which stopped behind him.
Michael Taylor, an eyewitness to the incident, was travelling on the opposite side of the road when he saw Mr Allen’s red Citroen Berlingo van and the lorry stationary – with its hazard lights on.
Mr Taylor said Slater must have been momentarily stepping out of the cab of his truck as he saw him getting back inside.
Ian Unsworth QC, prosecuting, said: “Just after seeing the defendant get into his cabin, Mr Taylor saw Trevor Allen’s vehicle slowly pulling out from behind the defendant’s lorry and then come to a rest a short distance in front of the lorry.
“He then saw Trevor Allen walk towards the lorry. He noticed that he was walking at a normal pace and that he was wearing a high-visibility top – it stood out to him.
“As he neared the lorry, Mr Taylor saw that it now had its hazard lights off and began to move forwards. Trevor Allen held his hands up. The lorry did not stop. It simply hit Trevor Allen.
“He was dragged under the lorry with his head to the area of the front driver’s side wheel. Mr Taylor saw Mr Allen’s body being thrown out from under the wheels. He told police that he did not see his body move again. It was in his words ‘mangled’. He could not see a head.”
Summing up the case to the jury, Mr Unsworth added: “Anyone who would run over another human being must have had at least some intention to cause very serious harm. Mr Allen was plainly in front of his wagon and he simply put his foot down. It would have been obvious he had just run over someone.
“As his lorry fractured the skull and his bones were broken he says he didn’t hear it or feel it. If there was a cat on the road you may have expected more compassion than was given for this man lying motionless just a few feet away.”
Kamil Miskiewicz, another witness at the scene, was driving a refuse van and described seeing the lorry overtake Mr Allen’s car before coming to a stop. Mr Allen’s Berlingo then overtook the lorry and stopped in front of it.
He said both men got out of their vehicles and spoke for a few seconds, and then described Mr Allen standing in front of the lorry with his arms out wide.
Mr Unsworth said: “Kamil Miskiewicz saw the driver, who appeared to be angry, gripping the wheel and he then saw the lorry move forwards.
“He also saw Trevor Allen’s head explode, seeing his body twist as it got dragged beneath the vehicle. He could hear his bones being broken. The lorry continued to move forward.”
Simon Feltham, the third eyewitness, was also driving on the opposite side of the road behind the refuse lorry where he claimed to see Mr Allen’s car perform a fast overtaking manoeuvre on the lorry before coming to a stop.
As both vehicles were stopped on what he described as an ‘inappropriate’ part of the road, he continued to watch and saw Slater’s door open where he was gesticulating.
He did not see Slater get out but saw the lorry move forward with the cab ‘bouncing up and down’. It came to a stop alongside his vehicle.
Mr Feltham then rang 999 and said: “The gentleman is lying in the road. It’s looking like a lorry coming down one way and a car, a bit of road rage. I’m not sure exactly what happened but he is lying still in the road.”
Mr Allen died instantly from his catastrophic head injuries.
In his opening speech to the jury, Mr Unsworth said: “Having stopped his vehicle in front of a lorry driven by the defendant, Mr Allen came to be standing in front of the lorry. He was also wearing a high visibility jacket. It would have been obvious to the defendant that Mr Allen was in the way.
“Notwithstanding that, and in all likelihood because the defendant was angry, he simply drove over Mr Allen. Mr Allen’s head was crushed. His brain exploded from his head. He died instantly of multiple and catastrophic injuries.
“It is a matter of common sense that the defendant at the wheel of his very large, very heavy lorry must at least have intended to cause very serious injury. Whatever had happened between the two men, you may think nothing justifies the defendant’s behaviour in the way that he did.”
Slater, from Oldham, Greater Manchester was arrested at the scene and charged with murder the following day.
In interview, he maintained that Mr Allen had been throwing coins at him and then told police that as the car had overtaken him and stopped he shouted at Mr Allen. He said his reply was ‘I’m going to fucking have you.’
Mr Unsworth added: “The defendant stated that he saw the car door open a little and then he said that ‘he jumped out of his car. I saw the car door opening so I knocked my handbrake off and started to go round the car. And I went round the car. I couldn’t see him, the actual bloke himself. I think I saw the top of his head as his car door opened.”
He later said that witnesses waved at him to park his lorry, and when he got out of the cab and looked back towards the Citroen, all he could see was a ‘bundle of rags’. A witness said: “You’ve fucking hit him.”
Andrew O’Byrne, QC, defending, had asked the jury whether they thought Slater was a man who would deliberately kill in his closing speech before they retired to consider their verdicts.
“You will have to decide whether he is a man prepared, without mercy or pity, to drive a vehicle with a combined weight exceeding 17 tonnes over another man. Is he? Or is he a man who was involved in a terrible, dreadful accident on that morning.”
Analysis of the lorry’s tachograph suggested the truck had been stationary for nine seconds in the moments before the fatal incident.
Story via Cavendish Press
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