Lorry driver jailed for 8 years after killing two people in minibus crash

An HGV driver has been jailed for eight years and 10 months after killing two people by crashing into a school minibus whilst checking Facebook on his phone.

James Majury hit the bus on the M58 near Bickerstaffe on January 8 2019, killing Pontville School pupil Joe Cairns, 14, and school worker Ann Kerr, 50.

Joe Cairns, 14, and Ann Kerr, 50, were both killed in the crash. Credit: Family Photos

The court heard how Majury ploughed into the stationary minibus at 50mph, reacting just half a second before the impact, causing a seven-car pile-up on the motorway.

Majury pleaded guilty to causing death by dangerous driving and five counts of causing serious injury by dangerous driving.

The driver of the minibus and three teenage passengers, as well as the driver of a Ford Transit van, suffered multiple serious injuries in the seven-car collision.

The scene of the crash was described by Judge Robert Altham as "apocalyptic".

The scene of the crash on the M58. Credit: ITV News

Joe, from Radcliffe, Bury, was on his way to Pontville School for students with special educational needs in Ormskirk, Lancashire when the collision took place.

In a tribute Joe’s mum Steph said: "Joe really liked going to school with Anne. Every day he liked to take with him a pug teddy, and his big red blanket and sit on the back seat. I always used to stand and wave him off and tell him I loved him.

"I miss my little boy every minute of every day. I feel useless now he’s not here anymore because he was my world. I always thought he needed me because of his special needs but it turned out I needed him way more."

  • Joe Cairns mum said that she still searches for her son at night.

Ann's husband Simon said: "Anne was my rock. The emptiness I, and our two sons, feel around the house is overwhelming.

"All our plans for the future and our retirement were taken away on that cold January morning on the M58. I wake some nights and it takes me a few seconds to realise why Anne is a not lying next to me, in those seconds I hope that her death was just a nightmare.

"Anne was a young 50 and in good health, she should have had many years ahead of her."

Majury on phone throughout journey

Mobile phone records showed that Majury had been looking at Facebook and fantasy game Hustle Castle, in the moments before the collision, which happened around 8.45am.

Records also show that a series of text messages were sent and received throughout his journey, as well as viewing the SkySports app.

The court heard how Majury received his last text message at 8.41am, from his mother, which he admitted to looking down, away from the road, to view.

He said it was then, when he looked back up, that he discovered he was within 12 metres away from the minibus, which was stationary in a queue of traffic. Majury said he attempted to brake but was unable to avoid the collision.

Inspector Claire Pearson from Lancashire Road Policing Unit said: "I felt quite strongly that there was significant evidence that showed a pattern of behaviour which saw Majury use his phone from the start of the journey up to the point of collision that I find completely unacceptable.

"In my mind, there's no question that driving a 19 tonne HGV at 56 miles an hour, whilst not fully concentrating on what's happening in front of you, is extremely dangers. He didn’t set out that morning to kill anyone but due to his recklessness that is sadly what has happened."

Lancashire Police are calling on people to understand the devasting effects texting whilst driving can have.

Joe's father has also echoed the police's plea telling people that it's "not worth it" to go on your phone whilst driving.