Schoolgirl left unable to walk or talk after lorry driver crashed into family's car on M42

The incident occurred between junctions eight and nine of the M42, near Kingsbury. Credit: BPM Media

A lorry driver who seriously injured a young girl and two members of her family when he hit their car on the hard shoulder has been jailed.

The Staffordshire family was travelling home from Heathrow Airport after a holiday in Sri Lanka when the crash happened at 11.56pm on 28 April last year.

The girl, now aged 10, has been left unable to walk or talk and will need a carer for the rest of her life following the collision, police said.

Dominic Nicholls, 53, of Inkerman Terrace, Ipswich, crashed into the back of the family's Nissan X-Trail which had broken down on the M42 in Warwickshire.

He crashed into the family's vehicle between junctions eight and nine, near Kingsbury, after their car displayed a dashboard warning, prompting them to pull over.

Both parents were also seriously injured, while their five-year-old son had minor injuries.

PC Craig Pearson, of Warwickshire Police's serious collision investigation unit, said the lives of the Stafford family had been "devastated by what happened that day".

Nicholls was about a minute behind and "for reasons unknown, the lorry drifted onto the hard shoulder at 55mph and collided with the rear of the X-Trail before the family had time to exit the vehicle".

After pleading guilty to three counts of dangerous driving causing serious injury, Nicholls has been sentenced to 30 months in prison.

He has been disqualified from driving for seven years and ordered to pay a £190 victim surcharge.

Speaking after the case, PC Pearson said: “This is a very sad and tragic case. Mr Nicholls has never provided an explanation for why he allowed his HGV to travel directly onto the hard shoulder towards the family’s X-Trail car, the overall responsibility for the speed and control of the vehicle must lay entirely within the hands of its driver – Dominic Nicholls.

"The dash cam footage from the HGV shows that Mr Nicholls makes no attempt to brake or take avoiding action prior to the collision."The standard of driving falls far below that expected of a careful and competent driver. We hope this sentence brings some comfort to the family whose lives have been devastated by what happened that day.”

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