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Lorry driver who killed mother and three children while on mobile phone sentenced to 10 years

A lorry driver has been sentenced to 10 years for killing three children and a mother in a "devastating" crash.

Tomasz Kroker, 30, from Hampshire, ploughed into stationary traffic at an estimated 50mph while changing music on his phone.

Tracy Houghton, 45, her two sons Josh Houghton, 11 and Ethan Houghton, 13, and her boyfriend's daughter Aimee Goldsmith, 11, all died at the scene.

Mr Goldsmith was in his car behind with his 13-year-old Jake and witnessed the crash on the A34 on August 10. He suffered whiplash and a broken rib.

Kroker broke down at the scene of the accident, crying and saying to himself: "I've killed them."

But he initially tried to claim his brakes had failed, telling officers “I hit my brakes but just couldn't stop".

He refused to answer questions when interviewed by police, but when he was eventually shown the footage from his lorry's dash-cam he admitted he had been distracted by playing with his phone.

Tomasz Kroker ploughed into stationary traffic while distracted by his mobile phone. Credit: Thames Valley Police

Police released footage from the dash-cam in Kroker's lorry to raise awareness for the serious consequences of using a mobile phone while driving.

Speaking after the sentencing, Aimee's mother Kate Goldsmith said Kroker's decision to use his mobile phone while driving turned his lorry into a "lethal weapon" and said the 10 year prison sentence "did not do justice to the crime committed".

In an emotional statement outside court, Ms Goldsmith said: "In the moments he chose to look at his phone, he caused a multiple vehicle accident that took the lives of Tracy, Ethan, Josh and my daughter Aimee.

"To all intents and purposes, Mr Kroker decision to use his mobile phone while driving turned his lorry into a lethal weapon."

Surrounded by Mark Goldsmith, Ethan and Josh's father Doug Houghton and Tracy Houghton's mother Jo Smith, Ms Goldsmith said: "The sentence of 10 years in prison will not ease our pain and suffering nor do we believe it will send a strong enough message to those who lack the self restraint to not use their mobile phones while driving."

The court heard that Kroker, who had become a father five months before the incident, was so distracted by his phone that he barely looked at the road for almost a kilometre.

Passing sentence, Judge Maura McGowan said his attention had been so poor that he "might as well have had his eyes closed".

Just an hour earlier he had signed a declaration to his employer, promising he would not use his phone at the wheel.

Adam Pearson who was badly injured in the crash.

Adam Pearson who was badly injured in the crash after Kroker ploughed into his white Mazda first, said: "I really am the lucky one here. The day will come when this is in the past for me.

"That's really not the case for the families of the people who died in this case."

Asked to comment on Kroker's 10 year sentence, Mr Pearson said: "Clearly there's no sentence that could possibly make amends to the families of the people who died in this accident.

The scene of the crash on the A34 in August. Credit: Thames Valley Police/PA Wire

"We feel that the sentence is too light given the consequences of his decisions that day and given the number of people who died and the fact that there were three children."

Kroker pleaded guilty to four counts of causing death by dangerous driving and one count of causing serious injury by dangerous driving at Reading Crown Court on 10 October.

Detective Sergeant Gavin Collier, from Serious Injury Collision Unit, said: "This was a truly devastating case where a mother and three children lost their lives and a man was seriously injured.

"The most tragic element of this incident is that it was avoidable. Tomasz Kroker was looking at his mobile phone while driving, this needless and avoidable act has resulted in the most devastating circumstances."