Havering trucker accused of death by dangerous driving - verdict

Wallace was cleared of causing death by dangerous driving. Picture: John Stillwell/PA

Wallace was cleared of causing death by dangerous driving. Picture: John Stillwell/PA - Credit: PA Archive/Press Association Ima

A lorry driver has been cleared of running down and killing a former bank clerk after becoming distracted while chatting to his passenger.

Peter Wallace, 50, hit Rafal Kuzniar in his 7.5 tonne flatbed scaffolders’ truck as he drunkenly staggered across Victoria Embankment in central London.

Wallace’s passenger, Grant Pike, tried to raise the alarm after spotting Mr Kuzniar, a former bank worker, and shouted “stop” just moments before the collision.

But Mr Pike was forced to look on helplessly as Wallace, of Marshalls Drive, Romford, was unable to stop in time, Southwark Crown Court heard.

Mr Kuzniar, who moved to Britain from Poland in search of work, was thrown several metres forward after the crash, on April 12 last year.

Paramedics tried in vain to save the former banker, who was pronounced dead at the scene at 4pm.

Prosecutors claimed Wallace was not paying sufficient attention to the road ahead of him.

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But a jury of four women and eight men deliberated for three hours and fifteen minutes before yesterday acquitting the scaffolder of causing death by careless driving.

Wallace breathed a sigh of relief and appeared to be close to tears as the verdict was announced.

Judge Nicholas Loraine-Smith described the death of Mr Kuzniar as “very sad”, adding: “What little we know of him is he is Polish and had worked in a bank in Poland.

“His parents died and he came to this country.

“It looks as though he was not working and didn’t have accommodation.

“It looks as if he had taken to drink.

“His body was taken back to Poland and there was a funeral with his family.

“We shouldn’t forget him.”

Wallace denied causing death by careless driving.

He insisted he was driving responsibly and had not been chatting to Mr Pike.