Lorry driver jailed after Mark Byrne dies in East Lancs crash

A LORRY driver who was using his mobile phone to shop online when he ran a red light and caused a crash which killed an armed forces veteran has been jailed. Mark Byrne, from Warrington, was a granddad-of-four who had been awarded an MBE for his 25 years of military service. He died at the age of 58 in January this year after a horrific collision on the East Lancs, with his wife Julie having also been 'severely' injured in the collision.

This morning, Monday, HGV driver Florin Solomon was handed four-and-a-half years behind bars at Manchester Crown Square Crown Court after admitting causing death by dangerous driving and causing serious injury by dangerous driving in connection with the incident. The 29-year-old, from Worcester, was delivering a shipment of fruit and vegetables in his Scania lorry shortly before 10.30am on January 21 but had been accessing his Amazon account via his mobile phone as little as three seconds before the accident. Solomon then ran a traffic light which had been turned from green to red 11 seconds prior to the crash at the junction of the A580 with Atherleigh Way and hit Mr Byrne's Toyota Corolla.

He was killed instantly after suffering multiple injuries including 'significant' trauma to the head and spine, while 56-year-old Mrs Byrne - the front seat passenger - sustained a fractured sternum and had to be cut out of the car by firefighters. The pair had been returning home from a hospital appointment at the time of the fatal crash, which occurred between the junction with Winwick Lane in Kenyon and Warrington Road in Glazebury. Solomon - who appeared in court via video link to HMP Forest Bank - was travelling at around 49mph in the direction of Manchester at the point of collision, while Mr Byrne was turning right onto the East Lancs.

After the accident, which was caught on the Romanian defendant's dashcam, the HGV collided with the central reservation and continued into the opposite carriageway. When he was arrested at the scene, he told police: "I'm going to jail, I went through an amber." The court heard that Stefan Ratchford was a witness to the crash, having been driving behind the lorry, while his wife was among the Good Samaritans who rushed to the aid of the couple.

A statement on behalf of Mrs Byrne was also read out, describing how the pair had first met in 1966 when she was in nursery and he was in his first year at primary school. Having first started a relationship in 1979, they were married in 1982 and had three children. Mr Byrne served in Germany with the forces, as well as having been a private soldier stationed at Whitehall - later working for the Ministry of Justice.

The statement added: "Everything is different, all of my plans have changed - I have lost my soulmate and my best friend."

More to follow.

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