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Family of woman killed by a lorry driver texting behind the wheel hit out at his ‘insulting’ sentence

The family of a woman killed[1] by a lorry driver texting at the wheel have described his sentence as ‘insulting’. Joseph David Smith, 30, used his mobile phone[2] while driving his 40-ton truck to text and browse web pages – including gambling sites – before ploughing into stationery traffic at 43mph. His Skania car-transporter ploughed[3] into the back of a stationary Vauxhall car at 43mph and then into a Renault van which overturned and crashed into another vehicle.

Gran Jeanette Watmore, 79, was killed instantly and four other people were injured in the crash near Bodmin, Cornwall, in May last year. Smith, from Gillingham, Kent was jailed for 32 months and banned from driving for five years.

Jeanette Wattmore and her son-in-law Lesley West

But Mrs Watmore’s family described the sentence as an insult and are demanding a clamp down on drivers using mobile phones. Mrs Wattmore’s daughter, Susan West, who was driving the Vauxhall at the time of the crash, said: “This is an insult to our family.

“I’ve spoken to all the family and they are all of the same opinion that it is too lenient. Killing someone is manslaughter, but death by dangerous driving is a motoring offence. “We think the law needs to be changed to stop people using their mobile phones while driving.

“There is far too much of this going on and they do need to change the law or we’re going to see a lot more people losing their loved ones as well.” Last month The Daily Mirror went out with police forces across the country as part of a nationwide clampdown on mobile phone use and witnessed scores of drivers using their phones at the wheel. It is illegal to use a handheld phone while driving.

The Depart-ment for Transport is set to double the fine to ?200 and penalty points from three to six following our campaign

Truro Crown CourtSmith was sentenced at Truro Crown Court.

Smith appeared at Truro Crown Court[4] for sentencing after previously pleading guilty to causing the death of Jeanette Wattmore by dangerous driving. Mrs Wattmore had been on a holiday to St Ives in Cornwall with her daughter and son-in-law and were returning home when the accident happened. Smith was going east on the main A30 at 50mph when the cars in front slowed and came to a halt in congestion caused by road works near the Carminow Cross junction.

Prosecutor Philip Lee said Smith would have had 10 seconds to react to the brake lights ahead of him – but examination of his tachograph revealed he only applied emergency braking one second before impact. Mr Lee said the HGV was still doing 43mph when it struck the rear of the first stationary car, causing significant damage and killing Mrs Wattmore instantly. The court heard Smith has accessed the internet on his mobile phone earlier that morning while he was driving, including viewing a gambling website,

Google searches and a PayPal account.

He also sent two emails, one text message and five other messages including one 43 seconds before the crash, which talked about booking a holiday to Prague.


  1. ^ killed (www.mirror.co.uk)
  2. ^ mobile phone (www.mirror.co.uk)
  3. ^ ploughed (www.mirror.co.uk)
  4. ^ Truro Crown Court (www.mirror.co.uk)

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