A Polish-born lorry driver accused of killing eight people had stopped in the slow lane of the M1 for 12 minutes before the crash and was almost twice the drink drive limit, a court heard today.

Ryszard Masierak, 31, of Evesham, Worcestershire, wept in the dock at High Wycombe Magistrates' Court where he appeared in connection with the UK's most deadly road crash since the 1990s.

Six men and two women travelling in a minibus died in the worst tragedy on Britain's roads for nearly 25 years.

Their vehicle had to swerve to avoid Masierak's stationary Scania lorry, which had been stationary in the first lane of the motorway for nearly quarter of an hour, The Daily Mail reported.

But court heard the minibus was "squashed flat" as it collided with a second lorry in lane two with all three vehicles then smashing into each other near Newport Pagnell at 3.15am on Saturday morning.

Masierak's former flatmate said he was living in his car after splitting with his wife, according to The Daily Mail. He is accused of eight counts of causing death by dangerous and four counts of causing serious injury by dangerous driving.

Police also charged him with drink driving after he gave a reading of 55 mg of alcohol per 100 ml of breath - the legal limit for driving is 35.

His lawyer Sarah Powell handed Masierak, who was dressed in a grey track suit, a tissue as the charges were read. She said no plea would be entered at this stage and did not apply for bail

Minibus driver Cyriac Joseph, 52, was also killed along with three Indian IT workers, Karthikeyan Ramasubramaniyam Pugalur, Rishi Rajeev Kumar, Vivek Bhaskaran and two others were killed.

Four others, including the orphaned girl, were seriously hurt. She was trapped in the wreckage for more than an hour and was found under a seat.

They were part of group of 11 family and friends travelling from Nottingham to London to go on a holiday to France.

Speaking outside the court Chief Inspector Henry Parsons, from Thames Valley Police, said: "Four people who were injured remain in a serious condition in hospital. We have had full co-operation from the two freight companies involved and they are fully supporting us with our investigation."

The death toll from this crash is the highest from a crash on a British motorway since 1993, when 12 children and their teacher died in a crash on the M40.