Lorry driver distracted by social media video jailed for causing the death of three people in A303 collision
The driver of a heavy goods vehicle has been jailed today (24 February 2023) at Winchester Crown Court after he caused a collision on the A303 that tragically killed three people.
Michal Kopaniarz, aged 39 from Telford, pleaded guilty to three counts of causing death by dangerous driving and one count of perverting the course of justice in January this year.
He was sentenced to 12 years' imprisonment.
The collision happened on the westbound carriageway of the A303 at Picket Twenty, Andover, in the early morning of 25 August 2021.
Alexandra Britton, aged 28, was the driver of a Vauxhall Astra that had broken down on the inside lane when Tina Ince, aged 58, stopped her food delivery truck to see if she could help. Thomas Watson, aged 30, was driving a flat bed recovery vehicle on his way to another job, when he also stopped to try and help move Alexandra’s car from the carriageway.
Kopaniarz failed to see the three stationary vehicles ahead of him on the carriageway as a direct consequence of being on his phone. He ploughed his heavy goods vehicle into them and all three were instantly killed.
During the investigation, police found dashcam footage that showed Kopaniarz breaking his mobile phone in half shortly after the collision had occurred and then discarding the two parts into the verge along with the SIM card.
Having retrieved the broken parts, and crucially, the SIM card, the police were able to rebuild it and recover enough evidence to prove that Kopaniarz had been watching a LADbible video on Facebook at the time of the collision. Being distracted by his phone and not paying attention to the road meant that he collided with the vehicles, causing the untimely death of three people.
Lucy Linington, CPS Wessex Senior Crown Prosecutor, said: “Not only did Michal Kopaniarz cause the deaths of Alexandra, Tina and Thomas, by driving dangerously, but he also tried to minimise his culpability by attempting to destroy evidence that would implicate him.
“He obviously sought to pervert the course of justice when he broke his phone in half and later he lied to police in interview about being on his phone.
“It is astounding that he had the presence of mind to find the phone in his cab and destroy it having just caused the death of three people in what can only be described as horrifying circumstances, and circumstances that were entirely avoidable.
“Our thoughts remain with the victims’ families today, who have all suffered such a dreadful loss of their loved ones. We hope that today’s outcome will at least provide a small comfort that justice has been delivered."