AN Aldershot truck driver may have been driving for up to 15 hours without a break when he crashed into a central reser-vation, an inquest was told last week.

Peter Robinson, 54, died instantly when a headrest spike went through his head in the accident last August.

Witnesses told how they saw his articulated lorry suddenly veer across three lanes of traffic and smash into the central barrier.

The force of the impact sent the lorry on to its side, crashing into a lamppost and careering down the carriageway.

Motorists stopped to help, smashing the front window of the cab to try to free Mr Robinson, of Ainger Close.

But he had been impaled by a pole normally used to secure a head-rest — probably after removing the rest to make more room.

The inquest in Nottingham was told accident investigators later found an incomplete record of his journey, giving a start time of 4am.

The crash, on the south-bound carriageway of the M1 near junction 25 in Nottinghamshire, happened just after 7pm on August 6 last year.

Officers also found discrepancies in Mr Robinson's tachograph charts, with start and stop times not matching distance and fuel records.

Pc Steven Wiles, a vehicle examiner with Nottingha-mshire police, said a fuse that controlled the tachograph had been removed.

Detailed examinations of previous charts showed there were at least three occasions when the tachograph had been interfered with.

Pc Richard Baker, also of Nottinghamshire police, told the inquest: "I can only suppose that it was to enable him to do a longer day."

Recording a verdict of accidental death, Notting-hamshire Deputy Coroner Martin Gotheridge said the lorry had no mechanical faults.

He said there was no evidence of Mr Robinson taking evasive action, adding: "The most likely cause would appear to be driver fatigue."

Afterwards, Mr Robinson's wife Pamela, 52, who attended court with her daughter Sharon, 31, and son Trevor, 32, said the family was devastated.

She said: "Peter was a wonderful husband and father, and it has been so hard since the accident.

"He was the best — an absolute diamond."