A distracted lorry driver killed a 14-year-old special needs pupil ‘with a heart of gold’ and a school worker after crashing into a minibus while playing medieval fantasy game Hustle Castle on his mobile phone, a court has heard today.
James Majury, 33, wept in the dock today as he pleaded guilty to two counts of causing death by dangerous driving and five counts of causing serious injury.
He was accused of smashing into a minibus containing children from special needs school Pontville School, in Ormskirk, on the M58 in January 2019.
The ensuing motorway pile-up resulted in the death of ‘superhero’ Joe Cairns, of Radcliffe, and 50-year-old staff member Anne Kerr from Southport.
Joe Cairns (left) and Anne Kerr (right) died after sustaining injuries from a multi-vehicle collision on the M58 in January 2019, caused by distracted HGV driver James Majury
Relatives of both victims attended Preston Crown Court today as Majury admitted to being ‘voluntarily distracted’ in the 45 minutes before the accident.
The court heard how HGV driver Majury sent texts, checked Facebook and Sky Sports apps, and played phone game Hustle Castle as he drove.
Reacting for ‘no more than half a second’ before impact, prosecutor Francis McEntee said, a multi-vehicle collision ensued at Bickerstaffe, Lancashire.
The tragic accident killed Joe and Ms Kerr, who sustained heavy injuries before they passed away, and blighted the lives of their families.
The court heard how HGV driver Majury sent texts, checked Facebook and Sky Sports apps, and played phone game Hustle Castle as he drove (accident pictured above)
Reacting for ‘no more than half a second’ before impact, a multi-vehicle collision (pictured above) ensued at Bickerstaffe, Lancashire. The accident killed Joe and Ms Kerr, who sustained heavy injuries before they passed away, and blighted the lives of their families
Majury, who appeared in court wearing a grey suit waistcoat, is now expecting a ‘substantial’ prison sentence after pleading guilty to both charges.
Mr McEntee told more than 50 relatives and police officers in the public gallery that Majury had shown ‘flagrant disregard’ for the safety of other road users.
He added: ‘The Crown’s case is the defendant, from the moment he set out on the journey that fateful morning, was using a number of applications on his phone.
‘It was not simply text messages but access to Sky Sports, Facebook and Hustle Castle which is a fantasy game.
‘The defendant switched out from Facebook to text messages. The defendant reacted no more than half a second before the point of contact.’
Shortly after Joe’s death, 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’
Pontville School special educational needs school in Ormskirk (pictured)
Majury’s defence barrister James Ageros QC said: ‘[Majury] would like, through me, to express his profound remorse and regret for his actions and for their tragic loss.
‘I accept the final disposal is inevitable and he will receive a custodial sentence. He will be going to prison for a considerable period of time.
‘The events have had a severe psychological impact on Mr Majury. He has a partner and daughter and the long period of incarceration will have a big impact.’
Shortly after their son Joe’s untimely death, his 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.’
In a statement, Ms Kerr’s family said of the mother-of-two: ‘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. Her death has left us all heartbroken.’
The school’s headteacher, Justine Sims, had said: ‘Our hearts are filled with sadness as we grieve the tragic loss of Anne Kerr.
‘Anne was a caring member of staff who went out of her way to support the young people at Pontville. We have been inundated with condolence wishes from our families and pupils, including those involved in the incident. Our thoughts and sympathies are with Anne’s family.’