Family of grandmother killed by lorry driver texting at the wheel blast ‘insulting’ sentence

Andy Wells
Freelance Writer

The family of a grandmother who was killed by a lorry driver who was texting at the wheel have lashed out at his sentence.

Jeanette Watmore, 79, was killed instantly when Joseph David Smith, 30, smashed into stationary traffic at 43mph.

He was using his mobile phone to text and browse gambling sites before the accident, that saw his 40-ton Skania car-transporter plough into the back of a stationary Vauxhall car and then into a Renault van which overturned and crashed into another vehicle.

Four other people were injured in the crash near Bodmin, Cornwall, in May last year.

Smith, who appeared at Truro Crown Court, was sentenced to 32 months behind bars and banned from driving for five years after pleading guilty to causing the death of Mrs Wattmore by dangerous driving.

Jeanette Watmore was killed instantly when Joseph David Smith’s lorry rammed into stationary traffic (SWNS)

However, Mrs Wattmore’s daughter, Susan West, who was driving the Vauxhall at the time of the crash, blasted the sentence.

She said: “This is an insult to our family.

“I’ve spoken to all the family and they are all of the same opinion that it is too lenient. Killing someone is manslaughter, but death by dangerous driving is a motoring offence.

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“We think the law needs to be changed to stop people using their mobile phones while driving.

“There is far too much of this going on and they do need to change the law or we’re going to see a lot more people losing their loved ones as well.”

Mrs Wattmore had been on a holiday to St Ives in Cornwall with her daughter and son-in-law and were returning home when the accident happened.

The grandmother’s family have described the lorry driver’s sentence as an “insult” (SWNS)

Smith was going east on the main A30 at 50mph when the cars in front slowed and came to a halt in congestion caused by road works near the Carminow Cross junction.

Prosecutor Philip Lee said Smith would have had 10 seconds to react to the brake lights ahead of him – but examination of his tachograph revealed he only applied emergency braking one second before impact.

Mr Lee said the HGV was still doing 43mph when it struck the rear of the first stationary car, causing significant damage and killing Mrs Wattmore instantly.

The court heard Smith has accessed the internet on his mobile phone earlier that morning while he was driving, including viewing a gambling website, Google searches and a PayPal account.

He also sent two emails, one text message and five other messages including one 43 seconds before the crash, which talked about booking a holiday to Prague. ]

Sergeant Jane Corkhill said: “This tragic case is sadly becoming more common, with increased opportunities to be distracted while driving.

“Motorists should take heed from this case, be responsible and put mobile devices where they can’t be reached while driving.

“The consequences can be devastating and the risk is simply not worth it.”

Defence barrister Nigel Hall said Smith had been devastated by the effect of his actions and had himself suffered from post traumatic stress disorder.

He said: “After the incident, he locked himself in his room for days, deep in remorse. That has been the case ever since.”

Top pic: SWNS