20th Oct, 2017

Car enthusiast killed after being hit by Coventry man's BMW

Coventry Editorial 3rd Oct, 2015 Updated: 28th Oct, 2016

A CAR enthusiast was killed when he was hit by a Coventry man’s BMW after getting out of his wrecked car which had been sent spinning into a motorway barrier in a collision with a lorry.

Dazed Alex Butwell, whose two passengers had taken refuge behind the barrier following the crash on the M40 in Warwickshire, died after he was thrown 45 metres by the force of the impact.

A jury at Warwick Crown Court was told both the driver of the artic which shunted Mr Butwell’s VW Polo across the carriageway and the BMW driver were to blame for his death.

HGV driver George Carr, 63, of The Hurn, Digby, Lincs, has pleaded not guilty to causing Mr Butwell’s death in March last year by dangerous driving.

And BMW driver Donald Corrigan, 67, of Butt Lane, Allesley, Coventry, has denied causing the 25-year-old’s death by driving without due care and attention.

Prosecutor Stefan Kolodynski said that in the early hours of Sunday, March 23 a group of enthusiasts began their journey to a car show at the Santa Pod raceway in Northamptonshire.

Mr Butwell, from Tividale, Oldbury, was in his white VW Polo with his girlfriend Rachel Crawford in the front passenger seat and a friend, Ashley Gibson, in the back.

They met up with other enthusiasts at Warwick Services on the M40, and then all left in a convoy of about 11 vehicles, with Mr Butwell at the head, at around 4.40am.

The convoy was travelling at 46-50mph in the first lane of the motorway at the same time as Carr was driving his artic from Lincolnshire to make a delivery in Banbury.

All the vehicles in the convoy had their lights on, and Carr’s lorry also had its lights on as he approached them on an unlit section of the motorway after the service area.

“He passed the majority of the convoy, but when he started his manoeuvre back into lane one, that’s when the Crown say his driving was so bad that it was dangerous.

It set off a chain of events which led to the death of Alex Butwell.

Mr Kolodynski said Carr began to pull in when the front of his cab was level with the Polo, and the passenger step of the cab struck the rear of the car.

“Ashley Gibson screamed at Alex to try to speed up to escape from the situation.

“But it was not enough, and the Polo was bumped again.

“It led to it being hooked, and pushed and dragged in front of the lorry, and it was shunted down the motorway.

The lorry then jettisoned the Polo across the motorway into the central Arnco barrier.”

The Polo ended up with its back end touching the barrier and the front extending two-thirds of the way into the third lane, as Carr drove off.

One of Mr Butwell’s friends followed Carr and eventually got him to stop, while the rest of the convoy pulled onto the hard shoulder with their hazard lights on.

Another person making a journey that morning was Donald Corrigan, driving a relatively new BMW 320i.

He had left his home at about half past four to travel to Heathrow to catch a flight to the United States, and once on the M40 he set his cruise control to a speed of 77mph and spent most of his time in lane 2.

Not long after he passed Warwick Services and just over the brow of a small incline, he noticed the hazard lights.  He moved from the middle lane to lane three, cancelled his cruise control and began to slow down.

“Tragically for Mr Butwell, he failed to pay attention to what was directly ahead of him – a bright white Polo – and his vehicle struck the front nearside, also hitting Mr Butwell who was thrown 45 metres down the carriageway.

“The Crown say that, all things being equal, if he was truly driving carefully he would have seen the Polo and avoided a collision, rather than his attention being distracted elsewhere.”

The trial continues.

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