A LORRY driver who became distracted while fidling with the radio and heating in his cab has been jailed for causing a serious accident which killed a woman.

Leon Stott, 35, of St David’s Road, Leyland, was sentenced to three years and four months at Preston Crown Court after previously pleading guilty to causing death by dangerous driving and two counts of causing serious injury by dangerous driving in July.

The incident happened at around 10:10am on Tuesday, January 8th 2019 in queuing traffic on the M58, following a previous collision around an hour before at junction 3, which resulted in the deaths of Joe Cairns, 14, from Radcliffe and Anne Kerr, 50, from Southport.

A partial road closure had been put place between junction 3 and junction 4, and a 50mph speed limit had been introduced whilst the first incident was being investigated and to allow the built-up traffic to move.

After entering the M58 at Orrell, Stott drove his lorry along on the westbound carriageway and after setting the cruise control at 56mph, diverted his attention from the road and subsequently, the 50mph speed alert signs whilst he adjusted the heat, ventilation and radio controls in his HGV.

As a result, he did not see the speed warning or the standing traffic ahead. His lorry ploughed into the back of a Ford Transit van which then in turn went into the back of a Ford Fiesta. This was subsequently shoved into the back of an Audi A6. The crash caused serious damage to the cars and a number of people were badly injured.

The Fiesta driver, 91-year-old Margaret Harrison from Orrell died from her injuries just over a week later on January 19th.

The Transit driver, a 54-year-old man from Goldbourne, suffered serious back and chest injuries, with the passenger, a 51-year-old man from Radcliffe, receiving a cut to his head. The Audi driver, 40, from Bradford sustained skull and facial fractures along with a chest injury.

A HGV and another Ford Fiesta were also affected but thankfully, none of the occupants were injured.

Head of Road Policing at Lancashire Constabulary, Ch Insp Sue Bushell said: “What Stott did showed blatant disregard for the safety of others and himself. Whilst we don’t know the exact time period he took his eyes off the road when the lorry was on cruise control, we know it must have been for a good length of time given he missed the speed warning which meant he wasn’t able to react, so didn’t break at all. His lorry smashed into the back of the Transit van which then caused a domino effect of other vehicles crashing into each other.

“There are no winners in this case as not only does Stott, who admitted what he’d done straightaway, have to live with the fact his irresponsible actions caused the death of Margaret Harrison, there is also the lasting impact on those who were left injured. One of the men affected suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and has struggled to get back into a vehicle, another has not been able to work in the same way as before and suffers with an on-going back injury. What happened will continue to affect everyone involved for years to come.

“My message to drivers is clear, please learn from what happened; by not driving to the road conditions and being distracted by things like adjusting controls in your car or your mobile phone, you are taking your life and the lives of others in to your own hands and the consequences can prove fatal, as they did here.”