Lorry driver accused of causing motorway bridge collapse chaos in England

Lorry driver accused of causing motorway bridge collapse chaos in England
Alan Austen arriving at Maidstone Magistrates Court. Photo: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire

A lorry driver has appeared in court accused of causing more than £1.5m (€1.75m) of damage following the collapse of a motorway bridge on the M20 during last August's bank holiday weekend.

The bridge fell after a wheeled excavator and dumper being transported by Alan Austen, 63, on the back of a lorry struck it between junctions four and three on the London-bound carriageway in Kent.

No-one was killed but Jim Shaw, 73, of Thamesmead, south-east London, suffered three broken ribs after he came off his motorbike to avoid the fallen bridge.

Gridlock was also caused on one of the busiest weekends of last year. Austen, 63, was summonsed by Kent Police in January to appear at Maidstone Magistrates' Court accused of dangerous driving.

Austen, of Jedburgh Drive, Darlington, County Durham, also appeared on Friday accused of causing serious injury by dangerous driving and three counts of criminal damage.

Prosecutor Mark Kateley told the court around £1.5m (€1.75m) of damage was caused to the bridge, £118,000 (€137,000) damage to the Daf truck and trailer and £35,107 (€40,923) damage to the Hitachi wheeled excavator and yellow dumper.

Mr Kateley said "luckily or miraculously" the motorcyclist survived with only broken ribs. He added that the level of damage caused required the case to be sent to the crown court.

No pleas were entered, and magistrates sent the case to Maidstone Crown Court for a hearing on March 17. Austen was granted unconditional bail.

More in this Section

Harry and Meghan leave royal life with pledge to help in coronavirus crisisHarry and Meghan leave royal life with pledge to help in coronavirus crisis

Strega Nona author Tomie dePaola dead at age 85Strega Nona author Tomie dePaola dead at age 85

New York governor begs for help amid ‘staggering’ death tollNew York governor begs for help amid ‘staggering’ death toll

UN chief says initial coronavirus cases in Syria just ‘tip of the iceberg’UN chief says initial coronavirus cases in Syria just ‘tip of the iceberg’


Lifestyle

Interiors voyeurism will never go out of style – not least when we’re all confined to barracks and eyeing up neglected corners of our own residences that could do with TLC.Home of the Year: Three doors swing open tonight to offer us a welcome distraction

With (hopefully) better weather on the way along with the longer evenings, gardening and nature offer a nice distraction to the news cycle.Podcast Corner: Green fingers and creature comforts

From Kaia Gerber to Oprah Winfrey, why not let a famous face choose your next read?The 4 best celebrity book clubs to virtually join

The tips and home treatments to stop your skin from backsliding.The Skin Nerd: How can I maintain my skin results at home?

More From The Irish Examiner