In the Media

Lorry driver jailed over 'hero' PC's death on M1 hard shoulder

PUBLISHED November 22, 2012

Andrew Abernethy's truck left the M1 near Wakefield, West Yorks, trapping Pc Mark Goodlad between his police car and another vehicle in October last year.

Pc Goodlad, 41, from Goole, East Yorks, was helping a stranded female motorist with a flat tyre when the truck careered into his marked BMW X5 police car at more than 50mph in October last year.

The father-of-one, who was also a carer for his disabled father, paid the ''ultimate sacrifice'' after dying on the south bound carriageway between Dewsbury and Crigglestone, during the afternoon rush-hour.

Abernethy, 45, of Oldham, Greater Manchester, had become distracted and drifted his orange Scania articulated lorry onto the hard shoulder, trapping the PC between his 4x4 and the grey Suzuki.

The police car, which was displaying its emergency lights, and the Suzuki were both stationary on the hard shoulder, as Pc Goodlad helped Sharon Burgess, 51.

Yesterday, Abernethy, who worked for a parcel firm near his home, was jailed at Leeds Crown Court for two years and nine months after admitting causing death by dangerous driving at an earlier hearing.

The court had heard how it had still not been established why the crash happened.

While police believe the accident showed signs that Abernethy fell asleep at the wheel although they found no evidence to support this.

Abernethy told investigators he had "lost momentary concentration" while trying to remove a "foreign object" from his eye after taking off his glasses, causing his lorry to drift.

Today, outside court his widow, Helen, movingly paid tribute to her "hero" husband, an officer with West Yorkshire Police for 10 years, who also left a 15-year-old son, Ben, from a previous marriage.

In a statement read outside court by Detective Chief Inspector Simon Atkinson, Mrs Goodlad, who had just married her husband, said the past 13 months had been "agonising".

She added: "There are no words to describe how much I love and miss him. He was the most incredible, honourable and inspirational person that one could hope to meet.

"Mark loved his job and took great pride in his duties. He never overlooked any opportunity to help people because that's why he joined the force and that's where he found himself that day - at the side of a lady needing help.

"Mark died doing what he did best. He was a hero at work and a hero at home to his family. Mark was the perfect husband, father, son, friend and colleague."

She added: "He was highly respected at work and adored at home. It is no exaggeration to say he was one in a billion. He made me proud every single day.

"I have been robbed of the life I had dreamed of with the person I loved more than anything in the world and Mark's son has been left without his amazing father."

Earlier Andrew Dallas, prosecuting, told the court that Abernethy had set off from work with a load of bedding an hour before the crash, which occurred at 4.15pm on October 24.

Prosecutors said the lapse of concentration was not momentary, with a detailed investigation showing how the lorry travelled down the hard shoulder for between 130 and 274 yards or 4.8 and 10 seconds.

Mr Dallas said this showed "prolonged and complete inattention to the road ahead".

Sentencing him, Judge Scott Wolstenholme told Abernethy: "You hadn't been paying attention to the road for a considerable period of time in driving terms, all the while, trundling along in that enormous truck at 50mph."

He said it would have been "obvious to a competent and careful driver that driving in that way would be dangerous".

Abernethy was also banned from driving for three years and ordered to take an extended test on his release.