In the Media

'Phone death' driver loses appeal

PUBLISHED January 16, 2007

A lorry driver who was using his mobile phone when he crashed into a stationary car killing a woman has failed to have his jail sentence cut.

The Court of Appeal dismissed a challenge to the four years imposed on John Payne, 31, from Chesham, Bucks.

Trinity Taylor, 23, from Aldershot, Hampshire, was killed on the M3 near Basingstoke, Hants, in October 2005.

In the moments before the crash, Payne had been punching the keypad of the cab's mobile phone.

'Error of judgment'

He had failed to see warning signs of an approaching queue of traffic or the queue itself which was visible for 900m, the court heard.

Lord Justice Moses, Mr Justice Nelson and Mr Justice Griffith-Williams ruled that there could be "no criticism" of the length of sentence passed by Judge Michael Brodrick at Winchester Crown Court.

Mr Justice Griffith-Williams, announcing the court's decision on Monday, said Payne "chose to allow himself to be distracted" by using a mobile phone.

Six other vehicles were severely damaged in the accident and Miss Taylor, who cared full-time for her mother, was pronounced dead at the scene after suffering massive chest and head injuries.

In mitigation, Ian Lawrie said Payne accepted he was scrolling the phone and was distracted when the accident took place and called it "an appalling error of judgment".

Mr Justice Griffith-Williams said there was "considerable" personal mitigation. Payne was a man of previous good character "who continues to suffer from significant remorse," he said.