Lorry driver jailed for M25 crash which killed four on trip to seaside

(L-R) Lisa Gardiner and Jennifer Smith died in the M25 crash (Essex Police)
(L-R) Lisa Gardiner and Jennifer Smith died in the M25 crash (Essex Police)

A truck driver who killed four people when he crashed into the back of a minibus in stationary M25 traffic has been jailed.

Ethan Burdett, 67, lost concentration when vehicles slowed to a halt in front of him on the inside lane of the motorway.

His lorry was still travelling at more than 50mph when it ploughed into the back of a minibus carrying residents of a homeless hostel back from a day out at the seaside.

Abigael Muamba, 31, from Edmonton Green, Dexter Augustus, 60, from Waltham Forest, and Jennifer Smith, 59, from Stratford, all died at the scene of the crash.

Lisa Gardiner, 44, from Walthamstow, died of her injuries six days later in hospital, while four others were badly hurt in the crash.

Judge Chris Morgan sentenced Burdett to three years in prison.

He said the crash had been “truly catastrophic on the families of the deceased and those left with serious injuries.

“The scars will remain with them for the rest of their lives.”

He said passengers in the minibus were returning home from an “enjoyable day out, and no one was to know the catastrophic circumstances that would unfold later that day.”

The court heard the crash happened between junctions 26 and 27 on the M25 at 6.14pm on August 23, 2021.

Burdett had started his journey in Ipswich and was heading for a rendevous with another driver at the South Mimms services, with plans to hand over the heavy goods vehicle.

The minibus contained nine residents of Branches in Walthamstow, a hostel for homeless people, as well as two members of staff and the driver. They were returning from a day trip to Southend when the crash happened.

The court heard the speed limit had been reduced on the motorway to 60mph, and traffic slowed down into a stationary queue close to the exit slip road at junction 26.

Burdett did not react until less than a second before the collision when he took his foot off the acclerator, and he was still travelling at 56 – 58 mph at the time of the collision.

His lorry crashed into the minibus, flipping it on to its side, while the truck careered across the four-lane motorway and into the central reservation.

Tests later showed Burdett was not on his phone, and he was negative for drugs and alcohol.

Burdett, of Ipswich Haven Marina, Ipswich, pleaded guilty to four counts of causing death by careless driving.

He will be banned from driving for the next four-and-a-half years.