Death-crash driver using phone gets five years' jail

A driver who was talking on his mobile phone when he caused a crash which killed a motorcyclist was jailed for five years yesterday.

Kevin Moran, 46, from Rochdale, Greater Manchester, was chatting to his wife on the hand-held phone when he made an illegal right turn into the path of the motorcyclist. Gary Smith, 40, a father of two children, from Atherton, Lancashire, suffered fatal injuries and died in hospital three hours later.

Liverpool Crown Court heard that Moran had been distracted by three calls and failed to see 15 warning signs.

Moran's custodial sentence was believed to be one of the first since new laws banning the use of hand-held phones while driving came into effect last week. Judge Henry Globe told him: "A motorist has lost his life because your attention was avoidably distracted by the use of a mobile phone. Last week, a new mobile phone law came into force which prohibits using any hand-held telephone while driving.

"The whole purpose is to reinforce what has been known for some time, that the use of a mobile phone while driving is dangerous and can lead to accidents of the most serious or fatal kind."

The court heard that, during the journey along the A580 East Lancashire Road towards Kirkby in Liverpool, Moran spoke to a work colleague and then twice to his wife. A passing motorist even beeped his horn in an attempt to warn Moran not to turn right.

The crash happened on 15 November last year. Moran, who has two previous driving convictions, was found guilty of causing death by dangerous driving last month before the new legislation came in.

As well as being jailed, he was banned from driving for five years.

Moran, who has six children, maintained in court that, at the time of the crash, he had finished his call and the phone was on the passenger seat next to him.