A driver who ploughed into the back of queuing motorway traffic at 70mph, killing a pregnant mother and her unborn child, has been jailed for three years.
Craig Scott, 51, had been using his hands-free mobile phone seconds before the smash and failed to brake prior to hitting a silver Peugeot on the M4 near Port Talbot, South Wales, on the morning of November 29 2016.
Rebecca Evans, 27, who was eight months pregnant with daughter Cari, was in the front passenger seat and died at the scene while her two-year-old son Cian had to be airlifted to hospital where he was treated for a skull fracture and two broken legs.
The prosecution alleged the defendant was “quite simply avoidably and dangerously distracted”, but Scott, of Heath, Cardiff, who pleaded guilty to causing death by careless driving at an earlier hearing, denied this.
On Thursday, after deliberating for two hours and 10 minutes, a jury of seven men and five women found him guilty of causing Ms Evans’ death and Cian’s serious injuries by dangerous driving.
Sentencing him at Swansea Crown Court, Judge Keith Thomas said: “The sole cause of this accident was your failure to keep a proper level of concentration on the road ahead.
“That lack of judgment was not momentary of short-lived.”
In a victim impact statement which was read to the court, Alex Evans said his partner of nine years and their unborn daughter had been taken away from him.
I will never have my perfect family back, marry my love or be a father to my daughter
“Cian after just turning two years old lost his loving mother and his sister, a sister he will never meet,” he said.
Mr Evans said he had a “perfect family life” and Ms Evans – who he planned to ask to marry him – was eight days away from going on maternity leave from her job at Shelter Cymru, where they both worked.
He said after the collision he had seen Ms Evans “lifeless and covered in blood”, and Cian “dazed and bleeding heavily” and had to decide who he should try to help first.
“Those pictures and feelings will never leave me as long as I live,” he said.
“I had to stand and watch my loved ones die and suffer and there was nothing I could do to help them.”
Mr Evans said he would “never forget the look of pain and longing in (Cian’s) eyes as he asked for Rebecca” and his son had spent months asking to “see mammy”.
He added: “The pain and suffering will never go away and I miss my girls every single moment of every day.
“I will never have my perfect family back, marry my love or be a father to my daughter.”
The court previously heard the couple had been driving to work when they encountered congestion and Mr Evans slowed before coming to a stop near junction 38 on the motorway.
He engaged his hazard warning lights, but then became aware of a car approaching from behind at speed.
I want her back. Becca and Cari didn’t pass away; they were killed
In a statement read during the trial, he said there was an “almighty bang” and then “chaos” and he saw people pulling at Becca’s door and removing her from the car.
“I saw blood on her dress and I knew then that our daughter had gone,” he said.
“I knew that straight away, but not in a million years did I think I would lose Becca.”
Ms Evans’ mother Meryl Evans read her victim impact statement to the court, sobbing as she did so.
In it she said: “Becca was my rock, my friend, the person I would turn to for advice.
“Things don’t make sense anymore.
“I want her back. Becca and Cari didn’t pass away; they were killed.”
Craig Harris, for Scott, said his client was “sorry and extremely remorseful for his actions”.
Scott was also banned from driving for five years.
Speaking outside court Pc Matthew Deschoolmeester said Scott’s failure to stop and his collision with the couple’s car had “tragic consequences”.
He said: “Only Craig Scott knows why he didn’t stop or slow down.
“Police know that he had finished a hands-free phone call 14 seconds prior to the collision… South Wales Police would like to remind motorists that although not illegal to have a hands-free call concentration must always be on the road ahead and other road users.
“The best advice is not to use the phone at all whilst driving.”