Tragedy again postpones truckers' trial

TRAGEDY has once again postponed the case of a Felixstowe haulage firm owner accused of manslaughter.Martin Graves' defence evidence was due to begin today at Basildon Crown Court but the proceedings were postponed after the wife of prosecution barrister Sir Derek Spence died.

TRAGEDY has once again postponed the case of a Felixstowe haulage firm owner accused of manslaughter.

Martin Graves' defence evidence was due to begin today at Basildon Crown Court but the proceedings were postponed after the wife of prosecution barrister Sir Derek Spence died.

Judge Philip Clegg told the jury: "Last Thursday night Sir Derek Spence's wife died. It is obviously a devastating blow for him. No-one could have foreseen it. He is obviously in no fit state to proceed this case at the moment."

The trial of Graves, 39, of Eastland Court, Trimley St Mary, and lorry driver Victor Coates was to resume today after it was adjourned on Tuesday last week.

The proceedings were postponed for six days because one of the barristers involved in the case was the son of the late Lord Jenkins, the former Labour Chancellor and Home Secretary, whose funeral was held on Friday.

Graves, who owns and runs Suffolk based M J Graves Haulage firm, has denied five charges of making a false record and one of manslaughter of soldier Lee Fitt.

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One of Graves' lorry drivers is accused of falling asleep at the wheel after driving for 20 hours without a break and crashing into Mr Fitt killing him instantly.

Coates, who admitted three charges of making a false record of his tachograph chart, but denied causing Mr Fitt's death by dangerous driving, had his full defence evidence presented to the jury in one hour last week.

The 57-year-old of Maidstone Road, Felixstowe, did not give evidence at his trial, where he is accused of crashing his lorry into Mr Fitt shortly after midnight at Marks Tey on December 14, 1999.

It is alleged that Coates had begun work at 4am the day before the accident and had been on continuous duty for 20 hours.

However, he told police he had stopped for a six-hour sleep and had only just restarted his journey when the crash happened.

Graves told police he did not feel responsible for the accident.

The case has been adjourned until Monday, January 20.

The trial continues.

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