Ion Onut: Lorry driver breaks down in tears over killing three in A1 crash as he browsed internet

Ion Onut apologised from prison as part of a film by Durham Police which highlights the dangers of using a phone while driving. Credit: Durham Police

A lorry driver broke down in tears as he apologised from prison for killing three people in a crash he caused while browsing dating sites.

Ion Onut was driving his Scania truck northbound on the A1 (M) last summer when he ploughed into slow-moving traffic at Bowburn, near Durham.

Forensic examinations found Onut had been searching dating sites at the time of the crash and had been using his phone's internet throughout his 200 mile journey from Cambridgeshire.

The crash killed three people and injured several others.

Breaking down in tears from prison, Onut said: "I never had a chance to say sorry or apologise to the families or anybody that lost their loved ones.

"People were in danger and now they have to suffer with flashbacks and injuries for the rest of their lives. It's really hard to see and live with that.

“When I saw the videos of what happened it was unimaginable and hard to see. It was so disturbing knowing that was me in that lorry ploughing through the cars.”

'I never had a chance to apologise'

Onut, of Galashiels, Scotland, made the apology in a film for Durham Police.

The trucker was travelling at nearly 60mph when it struck another HGV and four cars before coming to a stop at the central reservation and bursting into flames.

Members of the public rescued him from his burning cab following the crash, which happened at about 6.15pm on 15 July 2021.

Police arrested Onut at the scene. He was charged with three counts of causing death by dangerous driving, which he admitted.

The 42-year-old was jailed for eight years and ten months in January. He was also disqualified from driving for more than 14 years.

Durham Police footage shows the arrest

Onut described his actions as a "bad choice", adding: "I didn't plan to do any harm, it was just another day at my work, I didn't mean it to be like this.... I'm so sorry.

"My life is never going to be the same again. I have to pay for my mistakes. Away from the real world, away from my friend and family."

Elaine Sullivan and David Daglish died in the crash.

In the Durham Police film, their son Junior Sullivan said: "Neither of them can be brought back. Yes he's in prison now and he's got to think of it everyday, but he had a wife and child.

"His 13-year-old daughter has now got to live with the fact her dad killed three people, and injured and affected countless more people's lives by doing something that was completely avoidable."

Junior Sullivan's parents David Daglish and Elaine Sullivan were killed instantly. Credit: PA

Paul Mullen, from Washington, also died in the crash.

Durham Police are now urging people not to use their phones while driving.

Detective Constable Natalie Horner, from Durham Constabulary, said: “Ion’s actions from that day caused far-reaching and heart-breaking consequences for all of those involved.

“We hope this film highlights just how devastating using a mobile phone or other device at the wheel of a vehicle can be - in one split second, your life and other innocent people’s lives might never be the same again.

“Please, put the phone down while driving.”

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