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Romanian lorry driver who killed RAF chef when he drove on the wrong side of the road is jailed

Martin Evans
·4-min read
Corporal Chris Showell died when his car crashed into a lorry being driven on the wrong side of the road
Corporal Chris Showell died when his car crashed into a lorry being driven on the wrong side of the road

An RAF chef, who should have been on his honeymoon, was killed in a head on smash when a Romanian lorry driver accidentally set off on the wrong side of the road.

Corporal Chris Showell, 33, had been due to marry his fiance four days before the tragedy, but the ceremony had been cancelled due to the pandemic.

He was on his way to work at RAF Waddington in Lincolnshire just before 5am on April 16 last year when he was involved in a head on collision with a HGV driven by Tiberiu Dori.

Lincoln Crown Court heard how Dori, 34, had been on his way to Wiltshire to deliver eggs to a supermarket when he pulled into a layby on the A15 for a break.

After a 40 minute rest he continued his journey, but tragically is believed to have set off on the wrong side of the road.

Just a minute later, Mr Showell, who had been coming in the other direction ploughed into the front of the lorry and suffered fatal injuries.

Prosecutor, Andrew Scott said: “The collision occurred on Mr Showell’s side of the road. The Volvo lorry was completely on the wrong side of the road.”

The court heard that Dori had been parked in a layby on the opposite side of the carriageway he was driving along and it was believed he had simply set off on the wrong side of the road.

Mr Scott went on: “The defendant was perhaps operating on auto-pilot thinking he was driving on the continent.

The court heard that tests showed Dori had not been drinking or taking alcohol and he was not speeding.

His mobile phone was checked and he had not been using it at the time of the collision and the lorry tachograph records showed he had been driving within his permitted hours.

Dori admitted causing death by dangerous driving as a result of the collision and was jailed for 20 months and banned from driving for two years and 10 months.

He was also ordered to pass an extended retest before he can legally drive again.

His barrister Christopher Martin said: “He genuinely cannot explain why the collision occurred.

He was driving at 29 mph at the point of the collision. He had travelled 200 metres. The time taken to travel that distance was less than a minute.”

Mr Martin said Dori drove 60,000 miles a year for work and had an exemplary driving record with a clean licence both in the UK and in his native country of Romania.

Recorder Charles Falk, passing sentence, told him "Driving an HGV completely on the wrong side of a fast moving road is obviously going to have devastating consequences for anyone coming the other way.

"All I can be sure about is that this was a few minutes of inattention but as a professional driver this was a serious lapse."

"Christopher Showell never stood a chance. There was a head-on collision and in all likelihood he died instantly. His death is entirely your fault."

Mr Showell's fiancee Annie Hickman, in a victim impact statement, said she has been left devastated by his death.

"If it had not been for the Covid situation we would have been on our honeymoon.

"I miss him every minute of every day. His laughter, his amazing food, his love and kindness. I will love and miss him every day for the rest of my life."

Cpl Showell had worked at Waddington since January 2018, where he was the junior non-commissioned officer in command of in-flight catering.

RAF Waddington Station Commander Group Captain Steve Kilvington, paid tribute to Cpl Showell describing him as a valuable member of the team.

"Chris had been an important member of the catering squadron, working in most of the messes at RAF Waddington during the last two years," he said in 2020

"In every role, his professionalism and commitment helped improve working practices, delivery and teamwork.

"A superb chef and a highly regarded member of each team he worked in, Chris will be profoundly missed."

Colleagues added: "He will always be remembered for being a highly capable chef - someone who was always dependable, hard-working and honest in all his endeavours.

"A quiet character, he nevertheless had a wicked sense of humour once you got to know him and he was hugely popular across the squadron.

"Always having time for others, he will be greatly missed by us all."