Text messaging lorry driver gets five years

Judge condemns "wicked" practice of sending text messages while driving

The lorry driver accused of running down and killing a man while typing a text message was sentenced to five years imprisonment Wednesday for what was condemned as a "wickedly dangerous" activity.

Paul Browning, 36, had admitted causing death by dangerous driving, but had denied a prosecution claim that he had been composing a text message just before he collided with and killed Paul Hammond, 24, at a layby in Pitsea, Essex. Browning had been driving a goods lorry filled with gas bottles at the time.

After hearing evidence, judge Daniel Worsley decided that Browning's claim that he had been distracted by flying papers in his cab at the moment of the accident was untrue -- making his offence all the more serious.

Sentencing Browning to five years imprisonment, Worsley said that a "stern deterrent sentence" was required. "In many ways it is hard to imagine a more blatant act of such cold-blooded disregard for safety on our roads," Worsley said. He had earlier described the act of text messaging while driving as "wickedly dangerous".

This was the first court case in which a defendant was accused of causing a fatality because they were typing a text message. Last August an inquest heard that a policeman died in a car crash after reading a text message on his mobile phone.

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