Lorry driver who was on mobile while driving gets 10 years for killing woman and three kids

A lorry driver in England who killed a woman and three children by ploughing into their stationary car while scrolling through music on his mobile phone has been jailed for 10 years.

Lorry driver who was on mobile while driving gets 10 years for killing woman and three kids

A lorry driver in England who killed a woman and three children by ploughing into their stationary car while scrolling through music on his mobile phone has been jailed for 10 years.

Tomasz Kroker, 30, smashed into the vehicle carrying Tracey Houghton, 45, her sons, Ethan Houghton, 13, and Josh Houghton, 11, and her stepdaughter, Aimee Goldsmith, 11, at 50mph on August 10.

Their car was shunted underneath the back of a heavy goods vehicle and crushed to a third of its size, immediately killing the family, from Bedfordshire, at the scene on the A34 dual carriageway north of Newbury in Berkshire.

Kroker, from Trajan Walk, Andover, Hampshire, had pleaded guilty to four counts of causing death by dangerous driving and one count of causing serious injury by dangerous driving at Reading Crown Court on October 10.

He was sentenced at the same court on Monday.

The court had heard that Kroker, who himself had become a father five months before the incident, was so distracted by his phone that he barely looked at the road for almost a kilometre.

Passing sentence, Judge Maura McGowan said his attention had been so poor that he "might as well have had his eyes closed".

Just an hour earlier he had signed a declaration to his employer, promising he would not use his phone at the wheel.

Kroker's truck ploughed into a stationary queue of two lorries and four smaller vehicles which were stuck behind a slow-moving articulated lorry near the villages of East and West Ilsley at around 5.10pm.

Handout dashcam still issued by Thames Valley Police of Tomasz Kroker looking at his mobile phone while driving his lorry just before the crash.
Handout dashcam still issued by Thames Valley Police of Tomasz Kroker looking at his mobile phone while driving his lorry just before the crash.

A man was seriously injured and four other people were hurt in the horrific accident.

The court was packed with members of the victims' families and survivors of the crash, many of whom were in tears as prosecutor Charles Ward-Jackson recounted what happened that day.

As pictures and footage of the accident were shown to the court, some left the courtroom, rather than re-live the horrors.

Kroker himself wiped away tears and held his face in his hands as the more harrowing details of the incident were read out.

Handout dashcam still issued by Thames Valley Police of Tomasz Kroker in his lorry just before the crash.
Handout dashcam still issued by Thames Valley Police of Tomasz Kroker in his lorry just before the crash.

The court heard that, just an hour before the accident, Kroker had signed a declaration form while picking up the lorry from Andover, promising that he would not use a mobile phone at the wheel.

Prosecuting, Mr Ward-Jackson said he would have had an "excellent view of the road ahead" and, if he had been looking, would have seen a procession of seven lorries and cars slowing as the road rose uphill in front of him.

But instead he spent around 45 seconds looking at his phone as he scrolled through music, only occasionally glancing up and unaware that the traffic ahead had come to a stop.

Mr Ward-Jackson said: "It was only at 0.75 second before that the dash-cam shows (Kroker) looking up with sudden horror on his face.

"By now, of course, it was too late to take any avoiding action and the camera shows him dropping the phone, gripping the wheel and apparently bracing himself for the inevitable impact."

Kroker's vehicle ploughed into a Mazda driven by Adam Pearson, who had seen the lorry behind him and tried to drive to the side of the road.

But his car was thrown on to its roof on the embankment, leaving him trapped upside down in the driver's seat critically injured.

He was cut free and flown to hospital with a torn aorta artery, collapsed lung, lacerated liver and broken back.

Kroker's lorry smashed through a Citroen, injuring the two occupants, before plunging into a Vauxhall Zafira driven by Mark Goldsmith, who was with his 13-year-old son Jake.

The trailer they were towing, carrying bikes from a family holiday, was demolished, and the car was shunted into a Vauxhall Corsa in front, carrying Mr Goldsmith's partner Ms Houghton and her two sons Ethan and Josh and Aimee Goldsmith - his daughter and Jake's sister.

Mr Ward-Jackson said: "The Corsa was forced under the rear of the lorry, pushing the back of the lorry into the air, and crushing the roof of the Corsa so that it is little exaggeration to say that this small car, containing four people, was, in an instant, reduced to something like a third of its natural size."

He added: "It is a particularly distressing feature that the two surviving members of the family were in the car behind, and a 13-year-old boy was forced to witness at close range the deaths of four members of close family."

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