Crash After Roadside Car Engineer Fails To Spot Broken Brakes

Expert Lawyers Secure Settlement For Couple That ‘Could Have Been Killed’


A Robbie Williams tribute act and his wife whose van crashed when the brakes failed on their vehicle, despite an RAC mechanic telling them they were safe to drive just hours earlier, have told how they ‘could have been killed’ after the breakdown company admitted responsibility for the crash.

Performer Andrew Wilsher and his wife Jackie, from Witham in Essex, called out the RAC when they were travelling back from a tribute gig in Cumbria in 2009 and noticed the engine didn’t sound normal. The mechanic advised the turbo pipe had come away from the engine, but although the van would be slower than normal, it was safe to continue the journey home.

The couple drove for a further 300 miles but as they approached a roundabout at Braintree near their home and tried to slow down, the brakes failed causing them to slam into the car in front. Jackie, 35, who regularly travelled to gigs with Andrew to share the driving and help with setting up, suffered burns from the airbag that inflated in her face as well as a bump to the head. The van was also written off.

They later found out from the Assessor that the ‘loose turbo pipe’ was in fact the exhaust that had over heated causing hot gases to blow onto the brake servo vacuum pipe. The pipe eventually melted and the brakes failed.

The couple instructed legal experts at Irwin Mitchell who have now secured a four-figure settlement for them both to cover their injuries and financial losses after RAC Motoring Services admitted liability for the crash.

Martyn Hayward, a specialist litigation expert at Irwin Mitchell representing the couple, said: “This is a shocking case that could have been so much worse if the brakes had failed when Andrew and Jackie were travelling at speed on the motorway. The possible consequences don’t bear thinking about.

“The RAC are relied upon by millions of people to keep them safe on the road, and whilst this is a rare case, sadly their services on this occasion let the couple down when they needed help most.

“Thankfully the couple’s injuries were not life-threatening and they have been able to recover well, but their tribute act business was badly affected as they had to buy a new van, signs for the van, replace damaged equipment and Jackie was anxious driving for six months after the crash.

“The settlements awarded reflect the impact this had on their lives and we hope they can now begin to move on from their ordeal. The RAC now needs to reassure its customers that steps in training have been taken to prevent anything else like this from happening in the future.”

Andrew, 46, said: “We’d had a really long journey because the van wouldn’t go very fast so we felt relieved once we knew we were nearly home. It was absolutely terrifying when Jackie realised the brakes wouldn’t work. It’s just so fortunate we weren’t going any faster as we could have been killed or injured someone else on the road. We try not to think about it because it’s terrifying.

“We put our trust in the RAC mechanic who made us feel safe to continue with our journey. He even followed us down the motorway to check all was ok but pulled off at the next junction.

“The van we use for our business was written off and Jackie suffered burns to her face which took weeks to heal, but we’re just thankful things weren’t worse and no one was too seriously hurt.

“We hope RAC have learnt from what happened and staff are now better trained to recognise serious vaults with vehicles that could have life changing consequences.”