Bin lorry driver jailed after causing life-changing injuries to colleagues

A Huntingdon refuse collection vehicle driver has been sentenced to 20 months in prison after being charged with dangerous driving in an incident that caused life-changing injuries to two of his colleagues.

The 25-year old driver, Tomasz Ferlejkow, overturned the vehicle on the southbound slip road of the A1(M) at Sawtry in January this year, throwing his two passengers out.

His colleague, Gary Cullen, was put in an induced coma after the accident. He has since had to have a foot, and arm and a hand amputated following the crash.

The other passenger, Roy Hastings, had numerous glass fragments in both eyes, cuts to his head, a dislocated right elbow and a large open wound on his knee. Ferlejkow himself only received minor injuries.

The sentence was delivered at Cambridge Crown Court on Wednesday (27 September), where Ferlejkow pleaded guilty to causing serious injury by dangerous driving.

Nicola Devas, prosecuting, said the lorry overturned about 150 metres before a roundabout, which was preceded by a right hand bend. She said: “In the lorry was a crew of three – this defendant, Gary Cullen who is in court today, and Roy Hastings.

“It’s right to say the three of them had not worked together as a crew before. The defendant approached the right hand bend too fast and lost control of the vehicle – as a result the vehicle rolled over and significant injuries were caused.”

Diane Mundill, mitigating, said Ferlejkow recognised he had “significantly misjudged” his driving speed given the wet conditions, and has taken full responsibility for his actions.

She added: “The defendant has asked that I put forward his deepest apologies to Mr Cullen and his partner, his family, and all those affected by the incident.

“He says if he could just go back, re-do that day, he would. He is remorseful and deeply sorry for what he has caused. He is filled with guilt and remorse and he will live with this for the rest of his life, of course in a different way than Mr Cullen lives with it.”

Sentencing Ferlejkow, Judge Farrell said: “Nothing that I can do can turn the clocks back, or reflect the serious damage that you have caused to Mr Cullen’s life by your dangerous driving.

“Mr Cullen knew the road, and he expressed a verbal warning to you, but you ignored it. You continued onto the roundabout, losing control as a result of your excessive speed, causing the vehicle to turn onto its side, and throwing the passengers out.

“It’s clear to me that this is a case in which your driving created a substantial risk of danger.

“Taking all the factors into account, in my judgement, this offence is so serious that only immediate custody is appropriate.”

Deaths in the waste sector

The waste industry is one of the most dangerous in the UK, despite it being relatively small in terms of employment.

According to provisional statistics released by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) earlier this year, fourteen people were fatally injured in the waste and recycling industry in 2016/17 – a figure more than doubled from last year’s six deaths.

These figures – however – exclude incidents that do not involve waste management processes directly, including the four people who were killed in separate incidents involving bin lorries in just one month last year, as HSE figures do not take into account vehicle related incidents occurring outside the workplace.

Last year a Stirling Council recycling collector was jailed for a year for causing the death of an 80-year-old man during a round in 2014.

Scott Hamilton, 44, was reversing the council recycling lorry to let another vehicle pass while carrying out a round near Dunblane when he struck the mobility scooter of Peter Wills.