A 34-year-old man has been remanded in custody pending sentencing at Glasgow High Court after it was found he killed a mother-of-four because he was too busy checking his mobile phone while driving.
The recovery driver collided with the woman’s car in a line of traffic in February, and footage shows him focussing on his phone for a full 18 seconds prior to the fatal accident.
His 66-year-old victim never recovered from the injuries she sustained in the accident and died two weeks later in hospital.
The Lockerbie woman was travelling to meet friends to carry out some missionary work when she was caught up in heavy traffic on the A75 between Gretna and Stranraer at around 8.30am on February 8, 2017.
The driver of the recovery vehicle was caught in the same traffic while working for a rescue service.
Prosecutor Liam Ewing said: “Witnesses noted that the lorry did not appear to brake until a short distance before the collision, at which time it skidded or snaked.”
The woman’s vehicle hit a BMW in front before spinning to a halt.
As the driver got out of his truck and found “sobbing” at the side of the road, the pensioner was found unconscious in her car. She was taken to hospital with a serious spinal injury and multiple fractures.
Mr Ewing continued: “He stated he had left Stoke and was driving to Kilmarnock.
“He did not say what caused the collision.”
On being questioned by police, the driver claimed he had noticed “at the last second” that the “traffic was not moving”.
“There were no brake or hazard lights on the vehicle in front. I slammed the brakes on, slid and collided,” he continued.
Later, however, crash investigators established that the man had a potential distance of 256m to bring his vehicle to a halt and avoid the collision.
A study of seven cameras mounted in the truck’s cab showed his “attention had been on a dash-mounted mobile telephone“.
Mr Ewing said: “An analysis established he had been focusing on the phone…therefore failing to maintain proper observations of the road ahead.
“(This was) for a period of 18 seconds prior to reacting to the presence of the car.”
The recovery driver appeared to break down in the dock as footage from the cameras was played in court, showing him driving while checking the phone before the cab shudders as it collides with the victim’s car.
Representing his client, John Scullion said: “He accepts full responsibility for the death and bitterly regrets driving as he did.”
While it is unknown what he was doing on his phone at the time, part of the charges to which the man pleaded guilty state that he did “repeatedly interact with and focus your attention” on a phone.
The man was remanded in custody pending sentencing and pre-sentence reports.
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