Dis­tracted driver is jailed over ‘bat­ter­ing ram’ crash

Ormskirk Advertiser - - Front Page - BY JAMIE LOPEZ

ALORRY driver who took the lives of an Orm­skirk school worker and a teenage pupil has been jailed for eight years and 10 months.

James Ma­jury, 33, was said to have ef­fec­tively “un­leashed a 19.2-tonne bat­ter­ing ram with his eyes closed” on the M58 as he “pri­ori­tised” check­ing his Face­book ac­count at the wheel over the safety of other road users

He opened apps on his mo­bile phone and sent text mes­sages while driv­ing at up to 56mph and ac­cessed the Face­book app less than a minute be­fore his Mercedes Arocs ve­hi­cle, heav­ily laden with scaf­fold­ing, ploughed into the back of a nine-seater minibus car­ry­ing pupils and staff from Pontville School, a spe­cial ed­u­ca­tional needs fa­cil­ity in Orm­skirk.

Ma­jury slammed on his brakes just half a sec­ond be­fore hit­ting the minibus, Pre­ston Crown Court heard.

Joe Cairns, 14, from Rad­cliffe, Greater Manch­ester, and school sup­port worker Anne Kerr, 50, from South­port, died from their in­juries at the scene in Bick­er­staffe on Jan­uary 8 last year.

Fran­cis McEn­tee, prose­cut­ing, said: “The Crown say the de­fen­dant had been more en­gaged with Face­book than the road ahead.

“He dis­played a to­tal dis­re­gard for the rules of the road and the ap­par­ent dan­ger caused to other road users.

“He had ef­fec­tively un­leashed a 19.2-tonne bat­ter­ing ram on the M58 with dev­as­tat­ing ef­fect on the lives of his vic­tims.”

Five other peo­ple were se­ri­ously in­jured in the mul­ti­ple-ve­hi­cle col­li­sion close to junc­tion three of the west­bound car­riage­way, which pushed a Ford Tran­sit van over an em­bank­ment.

Be­fore the crash at 8.42am, there were warn­ing signs of a lane clo­sure on the ap­proach­ing exit slip road and there was an ob­vi­ous build-up of queu­ing traf­fic, the court was told.

Fa­ther-of-one Ma­jury re­mained at the scene fol­low­ing the crash and tried to help free the in­jured from the minibus, but also at­tempted to min­imise his cul­pa­bil­ity, said Mr McEn­tee.

He said: “He at­trib­uted the col­li­sion to a mo­men­tary lapse of judg­ment and told one per­son ‘I took my eyes off the road for a sec­ond’.”

Ma­jury main­tained that ac­count in a later pre­pared state­ment to po­lice, but gave no com­ment af­ter the find­ings of an ex­am­i­na­tion of his mo­bile phone and the lorry’s tacho­graph were pre­sented to him, the court was told.

Dur­ing his jour­ney from work about 30 min­utes ear­lier, he first sent a text mes­sage to Ra­dio 1 while trav­el­ling at 1mph and then opened the Sky Sports News app while sta­tion­ary in traf­fic.

It could not be said how the app was used but it was re­ac­ti­vated 10 min

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