Sales manager who tried to send Facebook birthday message while driving killed pensioner

Telegraph Reporters
The court heard Wendy Thompson would have had enough time to see the stationary vehicle and avoid the collision - PA

A sales manager has been jailed for more than two years for ploughing into a stationary car and killing a pensioner as she tried to send a happy birthday message on Facebook.

Wendy Thompson, 53, of Barnetby, north Lincolnshire, pleaded guilty at the Old Bailey to causing the death of Rodney Lewis, 84, by dangerous driving and causing serious injury to his 77-year-old wife Marlene.

Mr Lewis died from his injuries following the crash on the North Circular Road in London on February 3 last year while Mrs Lewis suffered a shattered pelvis and broken hip.

The couple, from Enfield, had stopped to help their 21-year-old grandson after his Ford Fiesta broke down and they were trying to summon a recovery vehicle when Thompson's car slammed into the back of them.

Afterwards, the defendant told a lorry driver who had stopped nearby: "I was trying to put my charger in my phone, I just didn't see him," the court heard.

The defendant later told police it was her friend's birthday and she sent a happy birthday message on Facebook.

When she realised the message had not been sent, she went to press it again and the mobile phone had been in her hand at the time, she said.

She was on her way to a business meeting and had forgotten to bring a mobile phone charger with her and was trying to plug her handset into the car, the defendant said.

A crash investigator found Thompson would have had enough time to see the stationary vehicle and avoid the collision if she had not been distracted by using her mobile phone.

Prosecutor Oliver Dunkin said: "This lady foolishly attempted to resend a mobile telephone message by holding the telephone and at the same time using her other hand to plug it in to charge."

Tahir Khan QC, defending, said Thompson admitted her responsibility and would carry the guilt of her wrongdoing "for the rest of her life".

Judge Anthony Leonard QC sentenced Thompson to two years and three months in prison for causing death by dangerous driving and 15 months for causing serious injury by dangerous driving to run concurrently.

She was also disqualified from driving for 10 years.

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