Stickney
July 26, 2021 4.53 pm

Sleep deprived van driver jailed over crash which killed close friend

He went to sleep at 3am that day

A van driver who caused a fatal collision when he drove after just two and a half hours of sleep was jailed for over two years at Lincoln Crown Court.

Liviu-Ciprian Petrea turned directly into the path of an oncoming HGV as he made a right turn resulting in a collision in which his passenger and close friend Costin-Alin Rafaila lost his life.

Petrea had agreed to give Mr Rafaila a lift so that he could meet a relative but later admitted that driving was the last thing he wanted to do due to his lack of sleep.

Robert Underwood, prosecuting, said that the HGV was only three or four metres in front of the van when Petrea took the decision to turn right off the A16 near to Surfleet.

Petrea, who was driving a hire van because his own vehicle had broken down the day before, only got to bed at 3am on the day of the collision.

Mr Underwood said “He had to be up again by 5.30am in order to rendezvous with his boss at a depot in Peterborough.

“In 24 hours he only had two and a half hours sleep. That sleep deprivation was a significant factor in this fatal accident.”

Petrea worked his shift as a delivery driver before agreeing to drive his friend Mr Rafaila, to Holbeach to pick up a relative.

“It was the last thing he wanted to do. He was so tired but felt obliged to help his friend.

“Neither Petrea nor his passenger was wearing a seat belt. He moved into the centre turning lane to turn right. He was in the lane moving slowly. There was no indicating.

“Then for reasons which are almost inexplicable, as the lorry must have been within three or four metres of the van, he turned across into the path of the lorry. That fatally injured Mr Rafaila and seriously injured the defendant.

“There is no explanation as to why he did not see the lorry. It was a huge vehicle.”

Petrea claimed he was blinded by the low sun, but Mr Underwood said that the defendant’s lack of sleep was the main factor in causing the collision.

Petrea himself was seriously injured. He suffered seven broken ribs and spent nine days in hospital.

Liviu-Ciprian Petrea, 31, of no fixed address, admitted causing the death of Costin-Alin Rafaila by driving dangerously on the A16 on November 29, 2019.

He was given a 30 month jail sentence and disqualified from driving for three years.

Petrea, who has spent over a year in custody on remand, will be deported to Germany at the end of his sentence to serve a jail term previously imposed in his absence for an offence of assault.

Judge John Pini QC told him: “You had about two and a half hours sleep. You were to say in interview that giving your friend a lift to visit some relatives was the last thing you wanted to do because you were so tired but you agreed to do it. That decision cost your friend his life.

“There is some evidence that the sun was low in the sky but the principal factor is that you drove when you were deprived of sleep.”

Gareth Gimson, for Petrea, said he had no other convictions either in the UK or in his native Romania.

“He has always been a hard-working man. He has lived a lot of his life in Germany. His mum and dad are in Germany and his three children live there.

“This was not an act of deliberacy. It remains an error of judgement. He will live with this guilt for a long time.”

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