Lorry driver was watching Facebook video as he killed three in horror crash

A lorry driver caused a crash by watching a seven-minute Facebook video on his phone while he was at the wheel of a nine-ton vehicle, a court has heard.

Michal Kopaniarz has been jailed for 12 years after his carelessness turned the HGV into a “lethal weapon,” judge Angela Morris said.

The lorry smashed into 28-year-old bride-to-be Alex Britton, Tina Ince, 58, and Tom Watson, 30, killing them as they tried to repair Ms Britton’s car by the side of the A303 near Andover, in Hampshire, on August 25, 2021.

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At Winchester Crown Court, relatives of the three people who died heard how Kopaniarz had been watching a video on Facebook in the minutes leading up to the horrific incident, and had even shared the clip with one of his friends.

Moments after the smash, Kopaniarz tried to destroy the evidence of his dangerous driving by deliberately breaking his phone and throwing it into nearby undergrowth.

Prosecuting, Simon Jones told the court: “On that morning, Alex Britton was driving along the A303 when her vehicle broke down in lane one."

As the two other victims stopped to help her, Kopaniarz was hurtling towards them at 56mph.

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Because he was distracted by his mobile phone, Mr Jones said, Kopaniarz “failed to react in time to the vehicles in front of him.

"All three were killed instantly [after] sustaining catastrophic injuries”.

“After watching the video clip, just seconds before impact,” Mr Jones added, “the defendant was halfway through typing into a mapping application the destination of his delivery."

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Mr Jones then told how Kopaniarz’s first thought was to destroy the evidence of his carelessness: “From the moment of this collision, the defendant's actions were directed to destroying evidence he knew implicated him and points towards his culpability and dangerous driving.

“While he said he did not see [the victims], he knows the reason for this was because he was using his phone.

“The defendant did not see the vehicles in lane one because he was not paying attention and was plainly distracted by using his mobile phone."

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In court, Kopaniarz pleaded guilty to causing death by dangerous driving.

He also admitted to one charge of perverting the course of justice, after another driver’s dash-cam footage caught him trying to destroy and discard his phone to hide the fact he had been using it while driving.

Detective Constable Cate Paling, the lead investigator of the Roads Policing Serious Collision Investigation Unit, said: "This was a catastrophic loss of life.

"Kopaniarz killed three people because he was using his mobile phone and not paying attention to the road."

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She added: "The devastating consequences of his selfish actions have torn three families apart.

"While the sentence passed today will not heal their pain, we are pleased our investigation has provided answers and justice to the loved ones of Alex, Tina and Tom.

"More than anything I hope other drivers who think there is no harm in using their phone while driving will consider this case and learn from it.

"Nothing on your phone could ever be important enough to risk killing another person."


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