‘Distracted’ lorry driver killed dad-of-four before he could meet unborn child
A lorry driver had been taking photos, making calls and making an internet search before causing a crash which killed a dad-of-four, a court has heard. David Platt had been driving a Volvo lorry filled with 30 tonnes of animal feed along the A487 in Pentregat, Ceredigion, when the collision occurred at 4.40pm on Monday, June 8 last year. Swansea Crown Court heard the 26-year-old had been driving the lorry at its maximum allowance of 56mph while in a 50mph zone when he pulled out around a van that had stopped behind a parked single-decker bus and collided head-on with an oncoming Ford Transit van.
38-year-old Benjamin Partis, from the Cardigan area, died as a result of the collision, while John Noble, who had been in the passenger seat, suffered a broken sternum. The friends were on their way to a job together when the crash occurred. James Davies, prosecuting, said the driver of the van that had stopped behind the bus had done so to allow the oncoming traffic to pass.
The driver of the car that had been travelling behind Mr Partis recalled seeing a lorry "veering across the road". A statement from Mr Noble which was read out to the court said: "I never thought once it was going to crash into us but it just swerved straight out in front of us and there was nowhere to go". Mr Partis had swerved the van in an attempt to avoid the lorry but Platt had also steered in the same direction, with the Transit van sustaining "massive impact damage" to its right side as a result of the collision.
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To subscribe, click here, enter your email address and tick the box for Crime and Punishment. You can also join our Facebook group here. The court heard that there was "evidence from his [Platt's] mobile phone he had been distracted from his driving" as he had taken three photographs of the Cardigan Bay coast at 3.25pm, 3.26pm and 3.28pm while driving between 40-45mph.
Mr Davies said that Platt admitted he had made "a couple" of calls to his girlfriend and his boss while driving earlier that day. At 4.36pm, just minutes before the crash, Platt had searched 'how to connect to a Volvo FM radio', as his headphones that he had been using via Bluetooth stopped working, before he accessed a link to a YouTube video at 4.38pm which was 15 seconds in length - though whether he watched the video or not could not be proved. Platt, of Shrewsbury Road, Shropshire, admitted to causing death by dangerous driving and causing serious injury by dangerous driving.
The court heard he has no previous convictions. A victim impact statement read to the court on behalf of Mr Partis' fiancee detailed how she had been 22 weeks pregnant at the time of the crash, meaning that he did not get to meet his fourth child. The statement also said: "I've lost my partner and my best friend, Ben's children have lost their daddy and his friends have lost their best mate.
The day we lost Ben we had our world flipped upside down. "Ben always made it clear that he wanted a big family and that dream of Ben's has been taken away. The day Ben was taken I was 22 weeks pregnant with our little girl.
This little girl will never meet her dad or have a photo with him. He has missed out on a lifetime with his children and our lives will never be the same again." Check crime stats for your community:
Desmond Lennon, for Platt, said that his client would never be able to express the extent of his remorse and regret and that he understood he had caused "incalculable suffering" and has been suffering with PTSD following the incident. He said that on the morning of the collision Platt had taken his girlfriend to hospital where she was receiving treatment and that he had been "thinking about her when he accepts he should have been concentrating on the lorry". Mr Lennon told the court that his client had taken the three photographs of the coast "to cheer his girlfriend up".
Judge Huw Rees told Platt that he had "most certainly" been distracted earlier in the day by taking photographs, making calls and searching on the internet, however, he said that it "could not be proved" whether he had watched the YouTube video in the minutes before the crash. He said: "Benjamin Partis was 38 at the time of his death. His death has had a devastating affect on many people, mostly, of course, his young family.
"You were most certainly distracted by use of your mobile phone earlier by taking photographs, making calls and doing an internet search.
There's insufficient evidence that you were actually distracted in a physical sense before the collision."
Platt was sentenced to three years imprisonment and was disqualified from driving for two years.