LONDON: A 31-year-old Indian-origin delivery van driver has been jailed for two years and four months by a UK court after he fell asleep at the wheel, killing his work colleague.
Malkit Chaukria was found guilty of causing death by dangerous driving of 29-year-old Aaron Ryan at Gloucester Crown Court in south-west England on Tuesday.
Judge Michael Cullum also banned Chaukria from driving for four years and two months during sentencing and criticised his transport firm employer for sending the driver out for such long hours that he fell asleep at the wheel.
“You did not set out to kill Mr Ryan in any way – he was your friend. But his death was utterly avoidable,” The judge told Chaukria.
“Tiredness when driving kills – we all know that. The hours you were expected to drive were utterly irresponsible and it is obvious to me that your employer bears a high degree of moral responsibility for what happened,” Judge Cullum said.
Chaukria was regularly starting work at 2.30 am, driving between 300 and 500 miles to deliver white goods for the Co-op in the West Country region of England, and not getting home till about 7-8 pm.
He nodded off at the wheel of his Mercedes Sprinter van as he headed home on an evening of November 2014 and veered onto the hard shoulder where he smashed into a broken down 44-tonne lorry.
Mr Ryan, who was in the front passenger seat, was killed instantly.
“It is not for me to comment on the minimum wage that you and Mr Ryan were being paid for working ridiculously long hours and driving hundreds of miles each day, for, it must be said a modest payment,” the judge said.
“I presume that had you refused to work such long hours, which you should have done, then you would have lost your job,” the judge added.
The prosecution said during the trial that earlier the same day of the fatal collision Mr Ryan had to wake Chaukria up when he nodded off during another delivery run.