The face of lorry driver who killed four people in minibus crash on M25

This is the face of a lorry driver who killed four people in a minibus crash on the M25.

67-year-old Ethan Burdett of Ipswich Haven Marina, Ipswich, pleaded guilty to causing the death of four people due to careless driving in April this year following the crash on August 23, 2021. The crash took place on the M25 near Waltham Abbey at around 6.15pm between junction 26 and 27. As Burdett approached the exit slip road to junction 26, he failed to react to stationary traffic queuing in lane one and collided with the rear of the minibus which shunted forward and struck a car.

Of the 11 passengers in the minibus - who were returning to London following a day trip to Southend - four passengers were seriously injured; three additional passengers and the driver of the car all sustained minor injuries. Sadly, 31-year-old Abigael Muamba, from Edmonton Green, 60-year-old Dexter Augustus, from Waltham Forest, and 59-year-old Jennifer Smith, from Stratford, all died in the collision. Lisa Gardiner, 44, from Walthamstow, later died from serious head injuries in hospital.

The anti-clockwise section of the M25 was closed for 11-and-a-half hours. At Burdett's sentencing hearing at Chelmsford Crown Court on Thursday (July 4), Gregory Wedge KC, prosecuting, said: "The 11 passengers were all known to each other as nine are residents at Branches, Walthamstow and two were members of staff. Branches is a hostel that provides accommodation for up to 18 months for single, homeless people aged 18 to 65 years.

"They support, encourage, and facilitate changes that people want to make in their lives. The trip had been organised in advance with this transport collecting them later in the day from Southend to return them back to Walthamstow." He continued: "Mr.

Burdett, in lane one, now approaching from behind [the] minibus has collided into the rear of the minibus, forcing the minibus into the rear of the Mondeo. The minibus has travelled forward and sideways, toppling over sideways and coming to a stop on the offside with the offside and nearside wheels off the ground." Mr Wedge said Burdett had not been using his phone during the crash, nor did he have any alcohol or drugs in his system at the time.

It was assessed that Burdett may have had limited time to react to the stationary traffic - a minimum of 0.8 seconds - and that he had reacted before the impact. Various victim impact statements were read out by family members of those who had died. Deborah Douglas, sister of Jennifer Smith, said she would "light up a room" with her personality, laugh and smile.

She said: "She was simply the brightest star and the light of our lives. Jennifer was loved by all who knew her. She lived her life and she lived it well.

She travelled the world and looked after all those she loved. To her children, she was not only a mum but their friend." Directly addressing Burdett, she said: "I cannot begin to tell you what you took on that sunny Monday evening.

You flicked the switch in our world instantly. Your actions caused us to go to bed that evening, do meaningless tasks while our Jennifer lay dead on a slab, unidentified for almost 24 hours." She added: "The pain and anguish you feel when someone rips your heart out will never feel real.I can no longer hate you, because the god I serve is forgiving.

She died doing the job she loved. I hope you will never forget her name." Nicola Elliot, Jennifer Smith's daughter, said her and her mother were "kindred spirits", and more than just mother and daughter and she was the "wind beneath my wings".

The family has been "fractured by her absence". She said: "She will never see her grandchildren. She was my world, my everything.

My mother was doing her job, a job she loved. The actions of Mr Burdett robbed me of the most precious person in my life."

Abigael Muamba (left), Dexter Augustus and Jennifer Smith (far right) were all pronounced dead at the scene, while Lisa Gardiner (second from left) died of her injuries later

Ms Elliot, despite her grief, wished that Burdett will "allow himself to have a life", as "it's so important because my mother does not". She added; "In an instant my mother was gone.

My mother will always be gone and I will still be here." Mark Gardiner, the husband of Lisa Gardiner, said his wife had been "ripped away" from him and his two sons. He said: "We can no longer celebrate Christmas and birthdays like we used to.

She won't get to see her sons grow up or see her sons get married."I have no option now but to watch our sons grow up now without their mother. They need their mother but she's been taken away from them. My family has been ripped apart and I fear it will never be repaired.

Lisa was and always is our world and we will never bring her back." Berthine Muamba, mother of Abigael Muamba, said the crash was "cruel and needless", saying their family was "broken" and she had lost "her girl, best friend and soulmate". Mitigating, Alex Stein said that Burdett, who sobbed through most of the sentencing hearing, had offered a "sincerest apology" for the "terrible pain and hurt he's caused so many lives".

Mr Stein said it was a "momentary lapse" in concentration on Burdett's driving, and he has since been suffering with high blood pressure and other medical issues. He urged the court to pass a suspended prison sentence. Judge Christopher Morgan said the crash had a "truly catastrophic" effect on all of those who lost loved ones, as well as those who were seriously injured.

He said: "The scars will remain for them for the rest of their lives."

Burdett was jailed for three years for the crash.


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