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Mobile phone road menace facing jail after killing man

Smartphone abuser: Steven Russell was sacked from a previous job after filming a road accident and uploading it to social media, all while driving an HGV PICTURES: SWNS

A DRIVER who had previously been sacked from his job for using a mobile phone at the wheel is facing prison for killing a man — moments after sending a text.

Steven Russell, 42, was distracted by his mobile phone when he ploughed his Jaguar into Robert Morris, 57, who was crossing the road.

Mr Morris was rushed to hospital with catastrophic injuries following the crash on December 17, 2016, but died three days later.

He was mown down as he crossed Ansty Road in Coventry at 11.20pm after leaving the Red Lion pub where he had been enjoying a drink with his three brothers.

Prosecutor Cathlyn Orchard said: ‘The defendant later told the police he had seen Mr Morris as he traversed the two lanes on the opposite carriageway and running on to the grass verge before crossing on to his side of the carriageway.

Mown down: Robert Morris had catastrophic injuries after Russell’s Jaguar hit him as he crossed a road

‘The defendant could and should have taken action to avoid Mr Morris. The only explanation is that he was not paying attention, that he had been distracted in some way.’

Miss Orchard said that when Russell’s phone was later seized by police, deleted messages showed the phone ‘had been active around the time of the accident.’

The Jaguar hit Mr Morris in the nearside lane, throwing him into the air, and he landed in the road behind the car, after which Russell stopped and called 999.

Mr Morris was rushed by ambulance to University Hospital, suffering from ‘multiple and severe injuries’ from which he died three days later, on December 20.

Miss Orchard said Russell made the 999 call two minutes and 40 seconds after sending a text and had received a response just 36 seconds before the emergency call.

When he was interviewed Russell said he does not send messages when he is driving, but had sent one while he was waiting at a red light and had then put his phone down.

Miss Orchard told the court that months before the fatal crash, Russell was sacked as an HGV driver for filming a crash on his mobile phone.

She asked him: ‘Are you forgetting the other time when you were using a phone at the wheel? Were you driving while filming?

‘You were using a phone to record an accident, which you then loaded on to social media. You did this all the time while driving a lorry.’

During his trial, Russell told the jury: ‘Do you seriously think I intended to do this? I had no intention of hitting that poor man and destroying two lives.

‘I strongly resent it being suggested I hit that man deliberately. It was a freak accident. Two lives and two families were destroyed that night.’

A jury took seven hours to find Russell, of Coventry, guilty of causing death by dangerous driving following a trial at Warwick Crown Court on Tuesday. He will be sentenced at a later date.

Remanding him in custody, Judge Andrew Lockhart indicated that Russell would be jailed.