Death crash driver jailed

Fam­ily man died in the accident on the M69

Hinckley Times - - FRONT PAGE -

A TRUCKER who killed a fel­low lorry driver in a crash as he looked at porn on his phone has been jailed.

Felix Gil­lon, 56, a for­mer sergeant in the Royal Engi­neers, was found guilty of caus­ing death by dan­ger­ous driv­ing at Le­ices­ter Crown Court,

He was jailed for eight years for the smash which killed fam­ily man Kerry Pem­ber­ton on the M69 on May 3 last year.

Dur­ing his trial, it was heard Gil­lon has looked up “porn star candy love” four min­utes be­fore the col­li­sion, and an­other 25 web­pages were ac­cessed just af­ter – in­clud­ing porno­graphic im­ages and gal­leries.

Wit­nesses saw Gil­lon drift in and out of the hard shoul­der be­tween two and four times on the M69 south­bound car­riage­way at around 3.13pm.

Gil­lon’s Sca­nia ve­hi­cle then struck Mr Pem­ber­ton’s Iveco lorry, with the 55-year-old be­ing crushed against the safety bar­rier.

Mr Pem­ber­ton sur­vived the ini­tial im­pact but was trapped un­der wreck­age.

He was freed by fire­fight­ers but died of a heart at­tack in an am­bu­lance on the way to hos­pi­tal.

He had bro­ken down on the mo­tor­way and was await­ing re­cov­ery on the hard shoul­der at the time of the smash.

Gil­lon had later been spot­ted by an off-duty of­fi­cer, throw­ing his phone away af­ter the in­ci­dent in a bid to dis­pose of the in­crim­i­nat­ing ev­i­dence.

The lorry driver, of John­son Road, Bed­worth, de­nied one count of caus­ing death by dan­ger­ous driv­ing and one of at­tempt­ing to per­vert the course of jus­tice.

He at­tempted to place the blame with Mr Pem­ber­ton say­ing the bro­ken down ve­hi­cle had been parked partly on the car­riage­way.

But a jury of eight men and four women found him guilty of both charges on Thurs­day.

Gil­lon was jailed for eight years and banned from driv­ing for four years.

Sen­tenc­ing him at Le­ices­ter Crown Court, the Mr Jus­tice Had­don-Cave told him: “You have been found guilty on over­whelm­ing ev­i­dence.

“You told a se­ries of lies to seek to cover your tracks but the jury saw through it all.”

He said Gil­lon had “care­fully, de­lib­er­ately and sur­rep­ti­tiously” dis­posed of his phone af­ter the in­ci­dent.

Mr Jus­tice Had­don-Cave said: “The de­fen­dant sought to dis­pose of a key, in­deed crit­i­cal, piece of ev­i­dence that he knew would sig­nif­i­cantly in­crim­i­nate him of se­ri­ous charges.

“He dis­as­sem­bled the phone and scat­tered it when he thought no-one else was watch­ing.

“He did it care­fully de­lib­er­ately and sur­rep­ti­tiously 30 min­utes af­ter the col­li­sion, re­al­is­ing he was se­ri­ously in trou­ble – but was spot­ted by an off-duty of­fi­cer.” Mr Had­don-Cave added the de­fen­dant had wrongly claimed the victim was re­spon­si­ble for the col­li­sion.

The judge said: “He falsely claimed Mr Pem­ber­ton was to blame by park­ing his lorry so it pro­truded into the near­side lane, it must have caused ad­di­tional dis­tress to Mr Pem­ber­ton’s fam­ily, but let me make it clear, he parked per­fectly prop­erly on the hard shoul­der.”

The judge added: “You have pri­vately ex­pressed re­morse but it would have been bet­ter demon­strated in crim­i­nal pro­ceed­ings.”

He con­cluded by com­mend­ing Mr Pem­ber­ton’s fam­ily for their “quiet dig­nity” through­out the trial.

He said: “Noth­ing will bring back Kerry Pem­ber­ton, but a mea­sure of jus­tice has been served in this case.”

Gil­lon’s con­duct was even more se­ri­ous than text-mes­sag­ing whilst driv­ing be­cause of the level of dis­trac­tion in­volved the judge added.

As the ver­dicts were an­nounced Gil­lon showed no emo­tion, but Mr Pem­ber­ton’s rel­a­tives wept and qui­etly com­forted one an­other.

In a victim im­pact state­ment read by pros­e­cu­tor James Bide-Thomas, Mr Pem­ber­ton’s part­ner, Ch­eryl, said: “His death has been the truly hard­est time for all of us.

“I just sit and wait for him to come home ev­ery day and I am bro­ken-hearted.

“Kerry brought me any­thing I wanted over the years.

“I miss the kiss I would get when he came home from work, the cud­dles with his long, pow­er­ful arms and his smile.

“He was a very af­fec­tion­ate man and we all miss him dearly.”

Peter Cooper, de­fend­ing, said Gil­lon had served in the Army as part of the Royal Engi­neers be­tween 1988 and 1991, and in the same pe­riod had ob­tained his Heavy Goods Ve­hi­cle qual­i­fi­ca­tions.

Mr Cooper also added: “There was clearly some aware­ness from him about what was hap­pen­ing in traf­fic.”

DC Burns, the in­ves­ti­gat­ing of­fi­cer from Le­ices­ter­shire Po­lice, said fol­low­ing the case: “Not only did Gil­lon bla­tantly dis­re­gard the law he at­tempted to cover his tracks by get­ting rid of the ev­i­dence.

“His ac­tions that day, no doubt, re­sulted in the death of an in­no­cent man.

“I’m pleased he has been found guilty of the of­fences and I hope this case will high­light the dan­gers road users are putting them­selves and oth­ers in when they ig­nore the law which is there to

A lorry driver was watch­ing pornog­ra­phy on his mo­bile phone when he crashed into a bro­ken down truck and killed the driver. Felix Gil­lon was seen throw­ing away his mo­bile phone af­ter the col­li­sion on the south­bound car­riage­way of the M69, in Le­ices­ter­shire, on the af­ter­noon of May 3, last year.

Felix Gil­lon, left, and Kerry Pem­ber­ton with his wife Ch­eryl (right).

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