A paratrooper-turned lorry driver tragically killed a father when he fell asleep at the wheel of an articulated truck while streaming Netflix on his iPad.
James Emrys Lewis claimed he was listening to a Netflix show on his iPad in his bag when tragedy struck as he drove down the M4 in the early hours of September 24, 2020.
He had failed to notice that vehicles had been stopped by police in a rolling roadblock – due to a fatal crash on the opposite carriageway a short time earlier.
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Lewis' Scania lorry was in cruise control at 86 kilometres per hour (53 miles per hour) but failing to notice the stationary traffic ahead, he ploughed into it.
The defendant's lorry struck a highway maintenance vehicle, crushing it between his vehicle and another lorry in front.
Front-seat passenger, 50-year-old Simon “Clodge” Clover, was killed instantly, while driver Mark Henderson suffered serious injuries.
The pair were travelling home to Cardiff, Wales, from work at the time of the collision.
Swindon Crown Court heard that collision investigators were able to recover data from the lorry – showing that Lewis didn't brake until just seven metres from the queue of traffic.
Lewis’s iPad was streaming a Netflix show at the time, but Lewis claimed that it was in his bag when he was listening to it.
Reading a victim statement to the court on behalf of her mother, Mr Clover’s daughter Rebecca said that the family haven’t been able to bring themselves to wash his pillowcase.
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The mother’s statement described how she was sitting at the dining room table at their home in Cardiff, wondering where her husband was, when she saw a police car driving slowly past.
In the statement she said: “I knew they were coming for us.
“I dropped to the floor and was screaming. We will remember that day for the rest of our lives.
“We are struggling to understand and come to terms with [what happened]. We are still waiting for him to come home and tell us he was working away.
“Knowing we will never see him again is the worst feeling in the world.
“I feel like we are the ones who were handed a life sentence.
“We are the ones who have lost the most important person in our lives.
“No matter of justice will be good enough. I’ve lost my soul mate, the love of my life and my children have lost their father. We are devastated beyond repair.”
Mr Henderson suffered a fracture to the left side of his pelvis, which was fixed with screws and a metal plate, a fracture to his ribs on the left of his body, a dislocated left knee which required two operations and a laceration to his spleen.
He also suffered soft tissue injuries to his left heel which required rebuilding surgery.
Mitigating, James Hartson said: “Nothing that I say in mitigation is intended to minimise the seriousness or impact at all on the families of Mr Clover or Mr Henderson.”
Lewis, of Pretoria Road, Tonyrefail, Wales, was of “positively good character”, he said, without a previous conviction, caution or endorsement on his licence.
He added he served as a paratrooper in Iraq and Afghanistan, and was described by his commanding officer as a “talented soldier and a man of integrity”.
Judge Jason Taylor QC Taylor jailed Lewis for five years and two months, after giving 25% discount for his early plea.
He was also banned from driving for five years, extended by 31 months, to take into account the period he will spend in custody.
Lewis must also take an extended retest before he is allowed to hold a licence again.
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