M20 Bridge Collapse: Man In Court

A lorry driver has appeared in court accused over the collapse of a footbridge over the M20 in Kent last August bank holiday weekend.

More than £1.5million of damage was caused when the bridge came down onto the carriageway near Leybourne after it was hit by an excavator being transported on the back of a lorry.

No-one was killed but Jim Shaw, 73, of Thamesmead, south-east London, suffered three broken ribs after he came off his motorbike to avoid the fallen bridge.

Gridlock was also caused on one of the busiest weekends of last year. Alan Austen was summonsed by Kent Police in January to appear at Maidstone Magistrates' Court accused of dangerous driving.

The 63-year-old, of Jedburgh Drive, Darlington, County Durham, is also accused of causing serious injury by dangerous driving and three counts of criminal damage.

Prosecutor Mark Kateley told the court "luckily or miraculously'' the motorcyclist survived with only broken ribs. He added that the level of damage caused required the case to be sent to the crown court.

No pleas were entered, and magistrates sent the case to Maidstone Crown Court for a hearing on March 17.

Austen was granted unconditional bail.

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