Crawley man found guilty of careless driving following death of veteran car driver

An HGV lorry driver has been found guilty of causing death by careless driving after he collided with the back of a veteran car on the M23 during the annual London to Brighton Veteran Car Run in 2019.

Wednesday, 17th November 2021, 3:22 pm
Updated Wednesday, 17th November 2021, 3:24 pm

Michael Black, 52, of Crawley, West Sussex, was driving his lorry on the M23 near Merstham just after 10am on Sunday, November 3, 2019 as part of the ongoing smart motorway project works. He had collected a load from the northbound carriageway of the M23 and was on his way to dispose of it.

Shortly after making a U turn from the northbound carriageway onto the southbound carriageway, his lorry struck the rear of a Knox Model C car, causing both its driver and the passenger to be thrown from the vehicle.

The driver, Ronald Carey, 80, suffered fatal injuries and was pronounced dead at the scene. The passenger, his wife Billi, was air-lifted to hospital with suspected life-threatening injuries.

An HGV lorry driver has been found guilty of causing death by careless driving after he collided with the back of a veteran car on the M23 during the annual London to Brighton Veteran Car Run in 2019

The couple had travelled from Canada to take part in the annual London to Brighton Veteran Car Run. During the event, Mr Carey had mistakenly taken the slip road for the M23 as opposed to the designated route of the A23.

Analysis of Black’s mobile phone subsequently showed a phone call was in progress at the time of the collision.

Temporary Detective Constable Kelly Newton, from Surrey Police’s Serious Collision Investigation Unit, which investigated the collision, said: "This was a tragic set of events which has sadly resulted in the loss of Mr Carey’s life and serious injury to Mrs Carey.

"Our thoughts remain with Mr Carey’s family and I hope that the guilty verdict today will help them begin to come to terms with their loss and to start to move on with their lives.

"Black’s defence was that he simply did not see the car in front of him until it was too late as a result of “looming” and the sun being a distraction.

"Today’s verdict has reinforced that this isn’t in fact accurate and he was distracted by the use of his mobile phone.

"I hope that the guilty verdict delivered today sends a clear message to other drivers – that losing concentration, even for a few seconds, can have devastating consequences."

Black will be sentenced at Guildford Crown Court on December 8.