Lorry driver killed two after playing games on his phone at the wheel

A HGV driver crashed into a school minibus, killing a teacher and pupil because he ‘was checking Facebook and playing games on his phone’, a court has heard.

James Majury, 33, was said to have been distracted by apps including Sky Sports and Facebook from the moment he set off on his journey, to about 45 minutes later when a multi-vehicle collision took place on the M58 at Bickerstaffe, Lancashire, in January 2019.

One of the vehicles struck was a minibus carrying pupils and staff from Pontville School, a special educational needs school in Ormskirk.

Pupil Joe Cairns, 14, from Radcliffe, Greater Manchester, and staff member Anne Kerr, 50, from Southport, died from their injuries.

Their relatives attended Preston Crown Court today and watched as Majury pleaded guilty to two counts of causing death by dangerous driving and five counts of causing serious injury.

Francis McEntee, prosecuting, said Majury was ‘voluntarily distracted’ for a lengthy period up to and including the collision in which he reacted ‘no more than half a second’ before impact.

He had also been exchanging messages during the journey on the morning of January 8 last year.

Majury was remanded in custody by Judge Robert Altham and told to expect a lengthy jail sentence on March 31.

James Ageros QC, defending, said: ‘He would like to express his profound remorse and regret for his actions and for their tragic loss. One, of course, appreciates they are merely words but it is important that it is said on his behalf today.’

The defendant, wearing grey trousers and a matching waistcoat, a white shirt and a black tie, sat in the dock with his head bowed for most of the hearing.

Refusing bail, Judge Altham said: ‘In a case of such gravity he should be remanded in custody and start that sentence today.’

Following the crash close to junction three of the motorway at about 8.45am, tributes were paid to the teenager and Mrs Kerr.

The youngster’s parents, Steph and Andy Cairns, said: ‘Joe, my brave boy, a true fighter with a heart of gold. An amazing sense of humour and infectious smile, a true superhero.’

Mrs Kerr’s family said: ‘Anne was much loved by all who knew her. She will be deeply missed by all her friends and family.

‘She was a daughter, wife, and mum to two lovely boys. She was a lovely personality to be around.’