Two men who caused the death of a pregnant mum in a massive crash after towing an unroadworthy van for 27 miles through Lincolnshire have been jailed for three years and nine months.
Andrew Hurns, 28, of Edgbaston Drive, Retford, and Lukasz Orywal, 32, of Town Street, Lound, near Retford, both admitted causing death by dangerous driving on August 25, 2017.
Both men were jailed for three years and nine months after Judge Simon Hirst told them: “The driving from both of you was appalling in so many respects.”
They were banned from driving for four years and four months and must take an extended retest.
Lincoln Crown Court heard Orywal, 32, fitted a “make shift” tow bar and arranged for a friend without a driving licence to travel behind him after buying the van as a “non runner” for just £300.
Eye witnesses described how the Vauxhall Movano van being controlled by convicted burglar Andy Hurns, 28, could be seen swinging from side to side over the centre white line and bumping in to the back of the Chrysler Voyager being driven by Orywal.
As the two vehicles sped down a hill on the A17 at Leadenham, at 55mph the 90cms rigid tow bar, which had been made from a farm jack, broke sending Orywal’s car spinning at 45 degrees into the opposite carriageway.
It collided with a VW Passatt car being driven by lorry driver and company director Kamil Zdeb, 27, who was taking his young family from their home in Bradford to visit friends in Spalding.
His wife, Aneta Zdeb, 26, who was 14 weeks pregnant and sat next to the couple’s three-year-old daughter in the rear of the car, suffered traumatic injuries to her liver and heart from the massive impact. She died just a few hours later after being admitted to the Queen’s Medical Centre in Nottingham.
Mr Zdeb was also knocked unconscious in the crash which occurred at around 8pm on August 25 last year. His daughter was protected by her child car seat and suffered scratches to her arms and legs.
In an emotional victim impact statement which was read out in court Mr Zdeb described how his daughter had been left without a mother and still cried out at night.
The court heard Orywal, who worked as a groom for a professional three day eventer, had refused to pay £300 to hire a transporter for the van.
He fled the scene and was only arrested the following day after making a phone call from a shop in Claypole, eight miles from the crash.
Hurns, who had been promised cash by Orywal to take control of the van, remained at the scene and tried to help move some of the debris.
Orywal had arranged to pick the van up from a motor dealer in Boston after being told it was a “non-runner only to be used for spares and repairs.”
Jon Fountain, prosecuting, said CCTV caught the two men stopping at a petrol station shortly after leaving Boston to check the tow bar.
Mr Fountain told the court: “They must have been aware of the problems within minutes of setting off.”
Collision investigators who examined the two vehicles after the crash found the van’s brakes to be defective and concluded it should not have been towed at any speed above 15mph. The van was also at least half a ton over the safe braking limit to be towed by the Chrysler.
“When Orywal braked the momentum of the Movano van pushed it across the carriageway before slicing off the tow bar and continuing,” Mr Fountain added.
Hurns in interview by police, said he had expressed his concerns to Orywal after stopping before the collision. When asked if he thought the van was safe Hurns replied: “No, he thought it was a pile of sh*t.”
Hurns told officers he did not know why he had continued other than to get home.
The court heard Hurns had a bad criminal record with previous convictions for burglary, assault and driving over the prescribed limit. He did not hold a driving licence after “taking some lessons” and his provisional licence had expired.
Michael Cranmer-Brown, mitigating for Orywal, said he had been in the UK for five years and had one conviction for speeding.
The court heard Mr Zdeb was still “too distressed” to attend court to watch the sentencing but his victim impact statement was read out.
Mr Zdeb said: “I thought at first that I could cope by myself. Time has showed there is no such possibility.
“I don’t know what to do.
“I just can’t believe she has gone, we were young, our lives infront of us, we had so many plans.
“I have a child, three years old, who needs a mother and she hasn’t got one.
“She cries out at night for her mother.
“She was 26 years of age, she was too young to die, where is the sense.”
Michael Cranmer-Brown, mitigating for Orywal, said he had been in the UK for five years and had just one conviction for speeding.
Passing sentence Judge Hirst told them: “First, you Mr Orywal, you knew a transporter was required but you would not pay for one.
“You set up a rigid tow bar between the Chrysler and the van. There was less than a metre behind the Chrysler.
“You stopped shortly in to the journey, it is clear from the footage both of you knew this was dangerous but you carried on.
“Both of you knew the van was moving from side to side, crossing the white line, bumping in to the back of the Chrysler, but you didn’t stop.
“You drove at about 55mph. The safe speed limit was no more than 15mph, and you drove for 27 miles.”