Lorry driver Kestutis Rakevicius jailed for 10 months after Creeting St Mary chemical spill

Kestutis Rakevicius

Kestutis Rakevicius - Credit: Archant

A Lithuanian lorry driver has been jailed after a chemical spill caused an eight-hour closure of a key road linking the A14 and A140 in Suffolk, costing the taxpayer £130,000.

Kestutis Rakevicius, 43, from Kaunas in Lithuania, was imprisoned for 10 months at Ipswich Crown Court today after pleading guilty to driving a vehicle carrying a dangerous insecure load.

Rakevicius was seen travelling “at speed” when approaching the roundabout of the A14 and A140 junction by two police officers at 8.50am on June 23, the court heard.

Andrew Jackson, prosecuting, said one of the officers said “wow, that looks dangerous”.

The officers noticed that one of the four containers containing a hazardous liquid, a water solution of the chemical acrylamide, broke through the curtain cover in the curtain-sided lorry, Mr Jackson said.

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He said this was “exacerbated” when Rakevicius “navigated the roundabout at speed” during the journey from Rotterdam to Stowmarket.

The court also heard the containers were not strapped.

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Rakevicius was pulled over by police in Kettle Lane, Creeting St Mary. But while he was talking to the officers, the container fell on to the road and started leaking the hazardous liquid, which can cause irritation to the skin and eyes, the court also heard.

More police officers attended, as well as firefighters and Environment Health agencies. The road was closed until shortly after 5.15pm while the area was cleared.

Rakevicius was arrested at the scene and appeared before Ipswich magistrates on the following day, where he pleaded guilty to five charges, including driving without due care and attention, driving without a valid training certificate, driving a dangerous goods vehicle without displaying an orange placard and driving a dangerous goods vehicle without personal protection equipment.

He also pleaded guilty to driving a vehicle carrying a dangerous insecure load.

In defence, Neil Saunders said Rakevicius had pleaded guilty at the earliest available opportunity but admitted it was a “serious breach of health and safety regulation”.

He said Rakevicius has a “rather poorly” wife at home Lithuania and children in education, and had not “realised how much trouble he was in until today”.

Sentencing, Recorder Simon Blackford said the incident cost the community £130,000.

He said: “The hazard to which you exposed road users was a dangerous and, one has to say, inexcusable hazard and the cost that you inflicted on the community was very substantial.

“In my judgement, this cannot be dealt with by anything other than a custodial sentence. I have considered suspending such a sentence but I have decided that your offending is too serious for me to be able to do that.”

In addition to the 10 month imprisonment for driving a vehicle carrying a dangerous insecure load, Rakevicius was disqualified from driving for 18 months for driving without due care and attention.

For the other three charges, he was given a four-month prison term. However, these sentences are to run concurrently with the driving a vehicle carrying a dangerous insecure load offence.

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