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Family of woman killed by texting driver in Cornwall A30 lorry crash ‘insulted’ at sentence

The family of a woman killed after a texting lorry driver smashed into queuing traffic on the A30 said they are insulted at the sentence handed down by the court. They are now calling for the law to be changed to clamp down on drivers using their phones at the wheel. Joseph David Smith had been using his phone to send and read messages and browse webpages shortly before the fatal collision near Bodmin.

In the seconds immediately before the crash, on May 27 last year, he had been tuning his radio and admitted he had not noticed traffic slowing for roadworks ahead. Truro Crown Court heard the 30-year-old’s Skania car-transporter[1] smashed into the back of a Vauxhall car and then collided with a Renault van, which overturned and crashed into another vehicle. Jeanette Wattmore, a passenger in the first car, was killed instantly and four others were seriously injured.

Smith admitted causing death by dangerous driving and was sentenced to 32 months in prison. Read more: Coroner hears schoolgirl Dagmara Przybysz who was found hanged at school had been bullied[2] But Mrs Wattmore’s daughter, Susan West, who was driving the Vauxhall at the time of the crash, said after the court case: “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.” Jeanette Wattmore and her son-in-law Lesley West, pictured here on holiday near St Ives, just a few days before she was killed by a lorry driver on the A30 near Bodmin.

Mrs Wattmore was 79 years old and had six children, 29 grandchildren, 19 great-grandchildren and one great-great granddaughter. Mrs West, who lives near Bristol, said her mother had just recovered from a stroke in February last year and that she and her husband Lesley West had taken her to St Ives for a holiday. It was while they were returning home that the crash happened.

Mrs West added: “I wouldn’t want anyone to go through what we went through. I was told my mother had died, but still had to spend three days waiting in hospital while my husband was in intensive care.” Read next: Nick Knowles sends get well message to PCSO Down as she releases heartbreaking video[3]

She said the couple still suffered from flashbacks and huge emotional distress, as well as on-going medical problems. She added: “We’ve had to clear out her bungalow. It just doesn’t stop.

I don’t think the judges take into account what the families have to go through. Once we’ve done this we can get down to dealing with our own personal grief. It has just ripped the family apart.

“My mother loved her family. If you needed anything, she would help. She loved having fun.

If we had a family do she would always be up dancing. She was irreplaceable.” Mrs West thanked the many people who came to help them on the A30 and for the work of the fire service, air ambulance, paramedics and the police in bringing the case to court.

Joseph David Smith, 30, pleaded guilty to causing death by dangerous driving. It was acknowledged by Judge Robert Linford during his summing up in court that no sentence he could impose would be adequate for the family of Mrs Wattmore.

Addressing Smith, Judge Linford outlined the facts of the case and described the scene of wrecked vehicles on the A30 that day. He said: “It was a scene of complete carnage and you are responsible for it. All of these lives were needlessly affected and in the case of Mrs Wattmore needlessly lost as a result of your decision to do what you did.

“The family are unsurprisingly devastated. This was a case of dangerous driving leading to the death of one person and the injury of four others. It could, in fact, have been much worse than it was.

“These are without doubt the most difficult cases a judge has to sentence because there can never be a balance between a lost life on the one hand and your good character on the other. “It goes without saying, no sentence that I can pass will be seen as adequate by the family of Mrs Wattmore and, of course, no sentence I can pass will bring her back.” Read next: What is this mysterious sea creature that washed up in Cornwall?[4]

Judge Linford explained that he began with a starting point of four years in prison, aggravated by the use of a mobile phone but mitigated by Smith’s pervious good character, his clear remorse, his early guilty plea, the fact he stayed at the scene of the crash, cooperated with the police and helped one of the other motorists escape from an overturned vehicle that he thought might explode. Taking all these factors into account, Judge Linford sentenced Smith to 32 months in prison. He also banned him from driving for five years after his release from prison and said he must then take an extended driving test.

Read next: See all the latest news here[5]

References

  1. ^ heard the 30-year-old’s Skania car-transporter (www.cornwalllive.com)
  2. ^ Coroner hears schoolgirl Dagmara Przybysz who was found hanged at school had been bullied (www.cornwalllive.com)
  3. ^ Nick Knowles sends get well message to PCSO Down as she releases heartbreaking video (www.cornwalllive.com)
  4. ^ What is this mysterious sea creature that washed up in Cornwall? (www.cornwalllive.com)
  5. ^ See all the latest news here (www.cornwalllive.com)

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