Lorry driver who watched videos before crash which killed three people jailed for 12 years

  • Video from Michal Kopaniarz's dashcam captured the moment of impact

A lorry driver who was watching videos on his mobile phone at the wheel before a crash which killed three people has been sentenced to 12 years in prison.

Tina Ince, Alex Britton and Tom Watson were all killed in the collision along the A303 near Andover, Hampshire on 25 August 2021.

Tina Ince, 58, from Portsmouth and Tom Watson, 30, from Southampton, had stopped to help Alex Britton, 28, also from Southampton, who had broken down on the westbound carriageway at Picket Twenty.

Tom was driving a flat bed recovery vehicle and was on his way to another job when he stopped to help. Tina had been driving a food delivery truck.

Michal Kopaniarz, 40, from Shropshire, failed to see the three stationary vehicles ahead of him on the carriageway as a direct consequence of being on his phone.

He ploughed his heavy goods vehicle into them and all three were instantly killed.

Kopaniarz pleaded guilty to causing their deaths by dangerous driving at Winchester Crown Court on January 18.

Kopaniarz also admitted perverting the course of justice by destroying a Samsung mobile he was using at the time of the collision.

Michal Kopaniarz, 40, from Shropshire, pleaded guilty to causing death by dangerous driving Credit: PA

On Friday, February 24, Kopaniarz was sentenced to nine years and nine months for causing death by dangerous driving and two years and three months for perverting the cause of justice.

During the investigation, police found dashcam footage that showed Kopaniarz breaking his mobile phone in half shortly after the collision had occurred and then discarding the two parts into the verge along with the SIM card.

Having retrieved the broken parts, and crucially, the SIM card, the police were able to rebuild it and recover enough evidence to prove that Kopaniarz had been watching a video on Facebook at the time of the collision.

Being distracted by his phone and not paying attention to the road meant that he collided with the vehicles, causing the untimely death of three people.

Simon Jones, prosecuting, told the court previously: "This defendant knew in August 2021 that it was his dangerous driving that caused the death of three people and he knew that his destruction of his phone was done with a specific purpose."

  • Dashcam footage shows Michal Kopaniarz destroying his mobile phone at the roadside following the crash

Lucy Linington, CPS Wessex Senior Crown Prosecutor, said: "Not only did Michal Kopaniarz cause the deaths of Alexandra, Tina and Thomas, by driving dangerously, but he also tried to minimise his culpability by attempting to destroy evidence that would implicate him.

"He obviously sought to pervert the course of justice when he broke his phone in half and later he lied to police in interview about being on his phone.

"It is astounding that he had the presence of mind to find the phone in his cab and destroy it having just caused the death of three people in what can only be described as horrifying circumstances, and circumstances that were entirely avoidable.

"Our thoughts remain with the victims’ families today, who have all suffered such a dreadful loss of their loved ones.

"We hope that today’s outcome will at least provide a small comfort that justice has been delivered."

Tina Ince, Alex Britton and Tom Watson died in the crash on the A303 near Andover. Credit: Family handouts

Samantha Ball, defending, previously said: "Mr Kopaniarz is taking full responsibility for what happened that day."

Detective Constable Cate Paling, Hampshire Serious Collision Investigation Unit, said in a statement outside court: "This was a catastrophic loss of life. Kopaniarz killed three people because he was using his mobile phone and paying no attention to the road.

"The devastating consequences of his selfish actions have torn three families apart.

"While the sentence passed today will not heal their pain, we are pleased our investigation has provided answers and justice to the loved ones of Alex, Tina and Tom.

"More than anything, I hope other drivers who think there is no harm in using their mobile phone while driving will consider the case and learn from it.

"Nothing on your phone could ever be important enough to risk killing another person.

"I hope the dedication of our officers in this case proves how committed we are to catching dangerous drivers and holding them accountable for the lives that they ruin."

Following the crash, a procession of recovery trucks travelled through Hampshire in memory of recovery driver Tom Watson.

Colleagues drove in convoy past the accident site, ahead of his funeral in Southampton on October 11, 2021.

The procession travelled along the M3, A34 and A303.

His family who watched the procession said they were overwhelmed by the support for a man who would be in their hearts forever.