Trucker jailed for using 'sophisticated system' which disguised number of hours he worked

This post first appeared on Nottingham Post. Read the original article.

A Romanian trucker was jailed after driving a 3.5tonne lorry without its electronic brakes, speedo or controls to keep it under 56mph.

A judge ordered police to seize the vehicle and warned that other drivers should expect the same fate as Ion Pastramagiu.

A 12-week jail term and one-year driving ban were imposed on the 42-year-old, who had never been out of Romania before.

Sitting at Nottingham Crown Court, Judge Nigel Godsmark QC warned: "Drivers who come into this country with devices to defeat the tachograph can expect custodial sentences."

He described it as "clearly a sophisticated system" which "can disguise the number of hours drivers have been working."

The judge went on: "As well as the dangers inherent of tired drivers, the side effect is that it disables the system so as to affect the lorry's safety devices.

"It seems to me it was not you who fitted this device. They are of a sophistication that they have become part of the vehicle."

The equipment was probably fitted by Pastramagiu's employers, the judge added, and said that he was put "under some pressure" to drive it.

Nottingham Crown Court

Nottingham Crown Court

Noel Philo, prosecuting, said Pastramagiu arrived in the UK on October 4, driving a 3,500 kilogram articulated lorry which is registered in Romania.

"The driver's record card could be used to mislead the vehicle examiners and the electronic tacho system can be used to mislead.

"The danger is that this is all done to extend the driver's working hours. It disables the use of the apparatus so the lorry is without ABS braking, without speed limiter and without a speedometer.

"The whole object of the exercise enables drivers to grossly exceed their working hours and the real danger to the public is an extremely tired driver.

"They work longer hours than they should be and are less in control of a vehicle which has some safety devices and no useful speedometer.

"Without ABS, a driver braking suddenly can cause the vehicle to jackknife," added Mr Philo.

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Jonathan Hullis, mitigating, said Pastramagiu is the breadwinner for his wife, mother and three children. He had been an HGV driver for several years and had never used one of these devices before.

"He tells me that when he came across Europe to the UK it was the first time he ever left Romania in his life. His intention was that he work hard long hours to support his family through a very difficult winter," said Mr Hullis.

Pastramagiu, who was arrested on a Nottinghamshire road, was due to be paid 1,500 euros for a month's work but had not received any of that.

He told the court that Pastramagiu had no convictions in the UK or Romania. While in prison, he was taken ill and went to hospital with suspected tuberculosis.

He had emergency treatment to clear fluid from his lungs and was told that he needs medical checks when he returns to Romania, added Mr Hullis.