Walsall M6 fatal crash trial comes to a halt as lorry driver pleads guilty

A lorry driver has pleaded guilty to causing the death of a Black Country nurse in a crash on the M6 after failing to give himself enough time to safely switch lanes.

Victoria Kavanagh died on the M6
Victoria Kavanagh died on the M6

Victoria Kavanagh, of Oldbury, was at the wheel of a Citroen that was struck from behind by a lorry driven by Robert Ward, of Willenhall, shortly after 8.47am on July 27, 2020 northbound near Junction 10.

Ward, 55, had initially pleaded not guilty to an offence of causing her death by careless driving, but changed to a guilty plea on the second day of the jury trial at Wolverhampton crown Court on Wednesday.

Giving evidence forensic collision investigator Pc Dean Meese, of West Midlands Police, said in his opinion at the time of the impact "it was not a safe manoeuvre" due to the close distances between the car, Ward's lorry and another HGV.

He told Wolverhampton Crown Court that using motorway camera footage and tachograph data he was able to calculate that Ward was travelling at an average of 51mph between junction nine at Wednesbury and the next exit at Walsall, before seconds later increasing to 54mph. There is then evidence of a "deceleration" followed by emergency braking.

The court heard that the defendant attempted to exit the motorway on the Junction 10 approach without looking to see what was in the nearside lane which resulted in the tragedy.

Mr Daniel Oscroft, prosecuting barrister, previously told the jury that the case did not relate to smart motorway issues.

He said Ward driving carelessly led to the death to the mother-of-two's death.

Approaching Junction 10 at Walsall she slowed in stationary traffic. Ward who was following a lorry tried to change lanes without being able to see what was there on his nearside because he was driving too close to a green Travis Perkins lorry in front.

Footage of the motorway moments before the crash was played in court showing the vehicles involved in the crash heading towards a right hand bend seconds apart.

Mrs Kavanagh, 41, worked for Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust's school health service, had studied nursing at the University of Wolverhampton and had been accepted onto a master's degree course shortly before her death.

The children’s nurse from Oldbury, was pronounced dead at the scene. Following her death an online fundraising appeal in support of her family raised almost £3,000.

The case was adjourned for reports. Ward, of Croft Street, Willenhall, will be sentenced on December 14.

Paying tribute following the incident her family stated: “Victoria was a loving mother and daughter and a friend to everyone she met. She graduated 18 months ago in children’s nursing and got her dream job shortly after, working with safeguarding children.

“She had just been accepted to study for her Masters in Public Health and had so much to look forward to. She will leave behind a massive hole in our lives and will be forever missed.”

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