PROCEEDINGS have been dropped against a motorist previously accused of being responsible for a multi-vehicle collision.
A “medical cause” is now said to have resulted in a van driver losing consciousness shortly before the accident involving up to eight vehicles on the A167, near Ferryhill, County Durham,on Friday, June 1, 2012.
Several people were injured, one critically, when the northbound Renault Master van veered across the road, into the path of a number of vehicles heading in the opposite direction, approaching Dean Bank.
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John Robson Lonsdale was driving the van, returning home from work with a colleague, when the collision took place, shortly before 3.45pm.
Mr Lonsdale, now 55, of Commercial Square, Brandon, near Durham, was subsequently accused of dangerous driving.
He denied the charge at Durham Crown Court in March last year and his trial was set to start two months later.
But it has since been put back several times awaiting the outcome of reports by prosecution and defence experts into the circumstances leading to the accident.
Days before the latest listing of the trial, at the court next Monday (July 21), the case was called on for ‘mention’ yesterday (Thursday July 17).
Peter Sabiston, for the prosecution, told the hearing: “During the course of the investigation and, indeed, preparation for trial, both the defence and Crown appointed experts to look into what might have been the cause of the incident and they have produced a joint report.
“Both now believe Mr Lonsdale suffered a loss of consciousness immediately preceding the accident due to a medical cause.
“Given the burden of proof on the Crown, it is felt it can’t prove the case.”
Mr Sabiston, therefore, offered ‘no evidence’ on behalf of the Crown and invited Judge Brian Forster to return a formal ‘not guilty’ verdict.
Judge Forster did so, and told Mr Sabiston: “I have considered all the papers and appreciate it’s been a difficult case on all the facts.
“I’m conscious a very serious injury was sustained, but it’s clear you have prepared the case to a very high standard and the appropriate decisions have been made.
“It’s the only decision that could be made on the evidence before the court.”
Addressing Mr Lonsdale Judge Forster said: “I’m sorry you have been involved in matters which have taken a long time to conclude.
“It’s a case which affected a lot of people and it’s been difficult on all sides, but you leave the court without a stain on your character.”
He said the issue of defence costs would be considered in due course.
The judge also asked the Crown to send an explanation of events to solicitors representing the most seriously injured victim of the accident.
No explanation was aired as to the “medical cause” referred to during the hearing.