A HGV driver who crashed into a school mini bus, killing a 14-year-old boy and a mum-of-two, after using his phone at the wheel has been jailed.

James Majury, of Milton Road, Coppull, has been sentenced to eight years and 10 months at Preston Crown Court.

The court heard how Majury, 33, reacted just half a second before the fatal collision on the M58 at Bickerstaffe, which resulted in a seven-car pileup and seriously injured five others.

He had opened a number of apps during his journey including medieval fantasy game Hustle Castle and Sky Sports News, as well as sending text messages to his mother.

Majury accessed the Facebook app less than a minute before his Mercedes Arocs vehicle, laden with scaffolding, ploughed into the back of a nine-seater minibus carrying pupils and staff from Pontville School, a special educational needs facility in Ormskirk.

Bury Times:

Bury Times:

The scene of the crash

Joe Cairns, 14, from Radcliffe, and school support worker Anne Kerr, 50, from Southport, died from their injuries at the scene on January 8 last year.

Bury Times:

Joe Cairns

Bury Times:

Anne Kerr

Five other people were seriously injured in the multi-vehicle collision close to junction three of the westbound carriageway, which lifted a Ford Transit van over an embankment.

Sentencing Majury, Judge Robert Altham said: "The sad conclusion was this.

"The defendant did not see the obvious minibus and of course its precious occupants because he prioritised checking his Facebook over the safety of anyone else on the road that day.

"The force of the impact was so great the rear portion of the minibus was completely crushed.
"In a split second, those two lives were lost.

These were precious individuals indeed.

"Their lives and the lives of those close to them have been laid waste by this defendant."

Following the sentencing, Inspector Claire Pearson from Lancashire Road Policing Unit said: “I felt quite strongly that there was significant evidence that showed a pattern of behaviour which saw Majury use his phone from the start of the journey up to the point of collision that I find completely unacceptable.

"In my mind there's no question that driving a 19 tonne HGV at 56 miles an hour, whilst not fully concentrating on what's happening in front of you, is extremely dangers. He didn’t set out that morning to kill anyone but due to his recklessness that is sadly what has happened.

“Joe and Anne’s families can't bring their loved ones back but what they have asked is that people listen to what has happened here and learn that it is never safe to use a phone whilst you're driving.

"So, if you are ever tempted to check your phone while driving, even for a second, think of Joe and Anne, and don’t do it. Just one glance can mean the loss of a life.”