Mini bus driver caused deaths of three passengers, court told

 Bluntisham in Cambridgeshire where a minibus and a car were involved in fatal crash

The scene near the village of Bluntisham in Cambridgeshire where a minibus and a car were involved in a collision. - Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

A minibus driver taking people home from Ely Christmas market caused the deaths of three of his passengers by driving into the path of a car at a crossroads where he should have given way, a court heard. 

Bogdan Ksiazek, 44, was taking 18 passengers' home to the Midlands following a day trip to a Christmas market at Ely Cathedral on November 14, 2019, a trial at Cambridge Crown Court was told. 

Bluntisham in Cambridgeshire where a minibus and a car were involved in death crash

The scene near the village of Bluntisham in Cambridgeshire where a minibus and a car were involved in a collision. - Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

Robert Forrest, prosecuting, said that the defendant was navigating by using the Google Maps app on his phone, which was held in a cradle in the minibus. 

His original route was along the A14 but "he was rerouted by Google Maps because of some problems on the A14", Mr Forrest said. 

"He was directed along some roads unfamiliar to him to the Midlands." 

 Bluntisham in Cambridgeshire where a minibus and a car were involved in death crash

The scene near the village of Bluntisham in Cambridgeshire where a minibus and a car were involved in a collision. - Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

He said that Ksiazek, of Towcester, Northamptonshire, failed to stop at a give way sign at a crossroads near Bluntisham in Cambridgeshire, where Bluntisham Heath Road meets the B1040 Somersham Road. 

"That failure to give way caused... catastrophic consequences," Mr Forrest said. 

Most Read

The 18 passengers on the minibus were all retired and aged in their 70s and 80s, Mr Forrest said, and three of them died: Margaret Henwood, 85, Barbara McGruer, 86, and 72-year-old Richard Kenworthy. 

 Bluntisham in Cambridgeshire where a minibus and a car were involved in death crash

The scene near the village of Bluntisham in Cambridgeshire where a minibus and a car were involved in a collision. - Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

The defendant has admitted three counts of causing death by careless driving. 

He denies three counts of causing death by dangerous driving, and eight counts of causing serious injury by dangerous driving. 

The eight people who suffered serious injuries were seven of the surviving minibus passengers, and the driver of the Volkswagen Golf that collided with the minibus. 

Mr Forrest said that at the scene Ksiazek told police that he "stopped at the junction for several seconds" but that the Golf was "really flying and that's what caused the collision". 

But analysis of the tachograph from the minibus indicated that it crossed the junction at 29mph, having slowed from 47mph, and there was no stopping, Mr Forrest said. 

CCTV from a nearby farm showed the minibus travelling towards the crossroads before the crash is heard, but not seen, on the footage. 

Upgrades for Puddock Road near Warboys and the Wheatsheaf crossroads near Bluntisham

Upgrades for Puddock Road near Warboys and the Wheatsheaf crossroads near Bluntisham under way following several crashes - Credit: Terry Harris

He said that a lorry driver following the Golf was travelling at just under 50mph and the Golf was not pulling away, indicating it was travelling at a similar speed. 

Both roads were subject to the national speed limit. 

Mr Forrest said: "It's not in dispute that the three deaths were caused by Mr Ksiazek's driving. 

"The sole issue is in relation to the quality of Mr Ksiazek's driving. 

"Mr Ksiazek will argue that his driving amounted to no more than careless driving." 

The judge, the Honourable Mr Justice Cavanagh, said that careless driving is driving that falls below the standard of a competent and careful driver. 

He said that dangerous driving is driving so far below what would be expected of a competent and careful driver that it would be obvious to a competent and careful driver that driving in that way would be dangerous. 

Mr Forrest said that the junction was marked with give way signs on the roadside and on the road. 

"We say it should be obvious to a competent and careful driver," he said. 

Ksiazek was employed by a Northampton coach firm that was contracted to provide the day trip. 

He left the firm's depot at 7am, picked up passengers from various locations and arrived at Ely just after 11am, beginning the return journey at 4.10pm. 

The crash happened around 40 minutes later, when it was dark but conditions were favourable and it was not raining, Mr Forrest said. 

The trial, due to last one week, continues. 

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter