Monday 19 August 2019

Lorry driver who fatally crashed into boy (3) while 'sarcastically clapping' another motorist jailed for one year

Dean Phoenix
(Dorset Police)
Dean Phoenix (Dorset Police)

Peter Stubley

A lorry driver who killed a three-year-old boy on a pedestrian crossing while “sarcastically clapping” another motorist has been jailed for 12 months.

Dean Phoenix (44) gestured at the driver of a car which had allegedly been blocking his path moments before he crashed into Jaiden Mangan in Wareham, Dorset.

The toddler, who was crossing the road with his mother and sister, suffered severe injuries and died in hospital just over an hour later.

Phoenix was cleared of causing death by dangerous driving but had previously admitted the lesser offence of causing death by careless driving.

As he was sentenced at Bournemouth Crown Court, Jaiden’s father stormed out, shouting: “Is that it? You got a year for killing my son?”

The Crown Prosecution Service has confirmed that Phoenix was sentenced to life imprisonment in 2004 for the murder of his wife. It is not clear when he was released on licence but he was recalled to prison following Jaiden’s death.

Phoenix, from Chineham in Hampshire, was also banned from driving for 18 months by the judge.

Police said Phoenix had initially stopped his Scania lorry at the pedestrian crossing in North Street because of traffic congestion – including a red Vauxhall Astra parked on the zig-zag markings at the side of the road - at around 8.40am on 29 March last year.

At the time the traffic lights were green for vehicles. When it changed to red, Jaiden’s mother and sister crossed safely on the green man, with Jaiden behind them on his bike.

As the boy crossed the road, Phoenix drove forward – with footage showing him slow clapping another driver who had stopped at the lights on the opposite side of the road.

Phoenix told the court he was “frustrated” at being stuck in what he thought was a traffic jam and admitted failing to see the red light.

“I wasn’t expecting anyone to be on the crossing, I had no indication someone was in front of me,” he said.

“All my concentration was on looking ahead at the situation and moving forward so I could free up the traffic.

“It was an accident, I made a mistake, that’s why I pleaded guilty to careless driving.”

The driver of the Vauxhall Astra which parked on the zig-zag lines next to the crossing was fined £285 after admitting driving without due care and attention and failing to comply with a road traffic sign.

Inspector Joe Pardey, of Dorset Police, said: “This tragic incident resulted in the very sad death of a much loved little boy that has understandably left his family devastated and nothing will ever compensate them for their loss.

“It was clear that Phoenix was frustrated with the position he found himself in, but this case demonstrates how motorists still need to show patience in these situations and the serious implications that can arise if we let that frustration get the better of us.

“Drivers need to take time and ensure their actions are safe no matter what situation they are faced with. If Phoenix had taken the time to make the proper checks Jaiden’s death would have been avoided.

“It shows the truly awful consequences that can result in motorists not driving with appropriate care and failing to comply with road markings and is another demonstration of the need to drive carefully and considerately at all times.”

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