A coroner has today ruled that the death of a motorcyclist killed in a head-on crash with a taxi was an ‘unlawful killing’.
Mark Buckley from Mansfield died after the crash in March 2014, having suffered “unsurvivable” injuries.
Nottinghamshire Coroner’s Court was told the taxi driver, Kevin Wiesztort, was unfit to be on the road due to lack of sleep – and the coroner has now demanded changes to licensing rules.
Mr Buckley’s partner Rachael Price told our reporter Charlotte Cross that she hopes those changes will save lives:
In a statement after the conclusion of the three-day inquest hearing, Ms Price said:
The last two and a half years have been incredibly difficult. Mark was such a positive, loving and funny man to be around and now we somehow have to rebuild our lives with only his memory.
My decision to pursue marks inquest to be resumed was because I believed that circumstances that occurred leading up to his death, if acted upon and monitored prior to the collision could have prevented it from happening.
Over the last three days the evidence I have heard has confirmed this.
To hear Dennis Lamb, the proprietor of Aaeron Cars, admit part responsibility into Mark’s tragic death was a bittersweet admission. I will be monitoring closely the outcome of his firm’s review in respects to his licensing conditions.
Mansfield District Council have worked closely with other licensing bodies across Nottinghamshire to implement changes to policies and procedures from the start of Mark’s inquest and I am hoping it will improve the future safety for the general public. I also hope other counties will look upon these changes in Nottinghamshire and review their practices to ensure this has national impact.
I hope to see safer practices enforced on taxi companies and their drivers in the hope that this can stop other people having to go through the pain and heartache we have been through.
I have offered to work closely with the licensing bodies to raise awareness in these matters and hope that going forward it can only be a positive step towards achieving this goal.
– Rachael Price
Mr Buckley, a father-of-three, was hit head-on in the crash with Wiesztort’s Fiat Doblò taxi, at around 5.30am on March 30, 2014 – Mother’s Day – as he travelled along the Derby Road in Kirkby-in-Ashfield.
Wiesztort had veered onto the wrong side of the road and smashed into Mr Buckley’s Yamaha, throwing him from the bike.
The court heard that less than two hours before the smash, Wiesztort’s customers David and Michelle Newton, who had been travelling from Mansfield to Birmingham Airport, had lodged a complaint with his employers Aaeron Cars.
They told the operator he should not be behind the wheel. He had been swerving between lanes, fluctuating speed without warning, and at one point took his jumper off over his head while on the M1, leaving them frightened for their lives.
The court heard that complaint was, in essence, ignored by the owners of Aaeron Cars, Dennis and Edna Lamb.
Mansfield District Council’s licensing chiefs have now launched an urgent, 28-day review into Aaeron Cars’ operating licence, after what the court heard were repeated failures to meet standards.
Officials from councils across Nottinghamshire have also joined together to overhaul licensing standards, introducing new guidelines to restrict who can get a taxi driver or operator licence.
These include stricter fitness to drive testing, tighter monitoring of drivers’ hours, and every taxi firm having a proper complaints handling procedure.
Nottinghamshire Coroner Máirín Casey said she hoped other councils would follow suit in raising standards.
Nottinghamshire Authorities Licensing Group are leading the way nationally in terms of the changes they have implemented in this case. This is much to be commended and is a fitting legacy for Mr Buckley.
– Máirín Casey, Coroner
In tribute, Mark’s family has described him as “thoughtful, funny and kind”.