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A motorist who killed two women because he was distracted by his mobile phone by driving has been sentenced to six years in prison.

The two women, aged 17 and 23, were crossing the road – in clear view – in Preston, Lancashire, and it was found that he was checking for a reply to a message he sent to his girlfriend a few moments before.

The 23-year-old woman was killed instantly when the accountant’s BMW hit the girls early in the evening on April 20 2016. Her friend died in hospital a few hours later.

The girls were part of a group of five who were crossing the road, with another of the friends seriously injured and spending a week in hospital.

The 26-year-old defendant admitted careless driving while he was taking his mother and sister on a shopping trip, but denied that his driving was dangerous.

Investigators’ examination of his phone showed that he sent two text messages to his girlfriend at 6.12pm asking her whereabouts.

She replied at 6.37pm to say she was at a friend’s, to which he swiftly responded: “Her house?”.

Preston Crown Court then heard that 42 seconds after that text he dialled 999 from the scene of the accident.

While the man told the court that he had sent the text while stationary at a set of lights and had returned the phone to the drivers-side pocket, another motorist said that the defendant had overtaken him shortly before the incident and he saw that the man had a mobile phone in his hand, resting it on the steering wheel.

Judge Robert Altham concluded that the defendant had been distracted by his phone for a “considerable period of time” before the collision.

“No text message was so urgent that it was worth the lives of these two young women,” said Judge Altham.

“This was plainly an avoidable distraction. So distracted was he that at the point of collision he may as well have been driving with his eyes closed.

“He deliberately concentrated on his phone rather than the road ahead. He was not on the phone in terms of speaking on it but he was sufficiently distracted that he did not see what was absolutely obvious in front of him.”

Judge Altham also said that the man had shown “no significant remorse” but rather “sadness for the predicament he now finds himself in”, as well as noting that the man had a fixed penalty notice for using a mobile phone while manoeuvering in a car park in 2014.

“Whatever the circumstances, it was the clearest possible indication of the importance of not using a mobile phone in the car. An indication he would have done very well to heed. He ignored it.”

The conviction came in a retrial after a jury was unable to reach a verdict earlier in the year. Found guilty of causing death by dangerous driving, the man was jailed for six years and banned from driving for nine years.

About Freeman & Co.

Freeman & Co. are a specialist firm of road traffic and criminal defence solicitors based in Manchester but with nationwide coverage.

Freeman & Co. specialise in a wide variety of road traffic cases, ranging from drink driving, speeding and mobile phone offences, to name but a few.

The firm was created by Nick Freeman, who has been dubbed “Mr Loophole” by the press for his technical legal ability and robustly challenging the prosecution.

Nick is well regarded as an expert road traffic lawyer and has successfully represented many high profile clients for a variety of motoring offences as well as criminal offences.

The firm of Freeman & Co. embodies the way Nick works, with minute attention to detail and challenging the prosecution at every turn.

If you are facing a road traffic matter or criminal offence and need the services of Freeman & Co. please call on 0161 236 7007.

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