HGV driver guilty of causing death by dangerous driving

22/02/2017

On Tuesday 21st February at Truro Crown Court, Joseph David Smith (30) was sentenced to 32 months imprisonment, disqualified from driving for 5 years and required to pass an extended driving test for Causing Death by Dangerous Driving, Contrary to Section 1 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 whilst in control of an HGV Car Transporter.

The collision involved four vehicles resulting in one fatality and other minor injuries. The HGV car transport driver had failed to spot slowing traffic.

At an earlier hearing, Smith had admitted to text messaging over a period of time, which resulted in the death of Jeanette Watmore, a passenger in one of the vehicles.

His Honour Judge Robert Linford said: "The severe consequences of your actions have had a devastating effect on Mrs Wattmore's wider family, which includes many grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Before the collision you had frequently been using your hand-held mobile phone whilst driving to send messages and access the internet. This was an aggravating feature of the offence, because it characterized your driving and showed that you were willing to drive whilst avoidably distracted."

It has been illegal to use a hand held mobile phone while driving, or while stopped with the engine on, since December 2003. From March 2017 the Fixed Penalty Notice for using a handheld mobile phone while driving will increase to £200 and six penalty points.

CPS South West Crown Advocate Phillip Lee said: "This case emphasises the obvious dangers of driving any vehicle, particularly a large goods vehicle, whilst avoidably distracted by radios, mobile phones or other devices. Our thoughts are with Jeanette Wattmore's loving family. Her tragic death and all the consequences of that were entirely unnecessary and avoidable."