A lorry driver who was placing bets on his mobile phone moments before his truck ploughed into a father of four, at 56 mph, has been jailed.
HGV driver Dean Moffat placed £20 on a greyhound race less than two minutes before hitting Ric Mboma, 60, on the A34, near Winchester, Hampshire - killing him instantly. Fifteen minutes after the crash Moffat uninstalled the betting apps on his phone.
Winchester Crown Court heard that the 48-year-old Army veteran had been using his iPhone almost continually as he drove that day, placing bets, reading emails, browsing Facebook and taking calls behind the wheel.
Records show that after setting off from Middlesborough at 2pm, Moffat used Facebook 12 times, read 14 emails and five WhatsApp messages, took two calls and made another, and frequently used his firm’s tracker app, records show.
He also placed four bets after visiting several betting apps, placing his final bet less than two minutes before the crash after receiving a trxt message from a friend tipping the bet.
Mboma had been driving his 19-year-old daughter Witley back to Winchester University, along with his 15-year-old son, Heaven, when the car broke down, forcing him to stop at the side of a dual-carriageway, where there was no hard shoulder.
He was fetching a spare tyre out of the boot when Moffat smashed into him and his two children, who had remained in the car, at 8.10 pm, November 11, 2019.
Dashcam footage showed that Mboma’s hazard lights would have been visible to Moffat 36 seconds before the crash happened, with seven seconds of unobstructed vision available before his lorry hit the Toyota Corolla at 56mph.
Whilst other vehicles had changed lane to avoid the stationary car, Moffat - who was on cruise control and repeatedly veered onto the rumble strips — took no evasive action, the court heard.
Moffat, a former Royal Logistics Corps Sergeant with 22 years’ service, told police he was unsure of when he last looked at his phone and claimed he only looked at it if he got a message, to see if it was important.
Jailing him for seven years, Judge Jane Miller QC said: “There was a total disregard for the great danger that was caused to others on many occasions. You took no evasive action whatsoever and cannoned straight into Mr Mboma, causing his death instantly. You were uninjured, your phone was not seized immediately, and you knew exactly what you were doing when less than 15 minutes later you uninstalled betting apps.
“The dascham footage shows exactly what happened, if you had not been looking at your phone you would have had ample time to take evasive action. I have no doubt your failure to realise your own danger constituted an extreme risk to other road users, especially when you were driving what is essentially a lethal weapon.
“Using your phone meant you were seriously distracted. You continue to make excuses by pretending not to know if you were placing bets. This was a prolonged, persistent and deliberate case of bad driving, using a phone is a gross and avoidable distraction.’
Witley Mboma, now 20, suffered a double break in her arm and had to drop out of university due to her trauma. In her impact statement, she said: “I can’t help but blame myself for my father’s demise and suffer with survivor’s guilt. The worst injury is the internal pain that will never go away. I suffer from extreme panic attacks, I often think about taking my own life so I can see my dad again. I don’t wish bad on the lorry driver, I just wish he is remorseful and understands how his negligence has caused so much pain and suffering."
Heaven Mboma suffered a broken leg and long-lasting joint pain. The mental impact of losing his dad and ‘best friend’ was so devastating he spent a week in hospital being treated for psychosis. Mboma’s wife told the court that the family, from Feltham in west London, has been left depressed and how his passing has caused them financial hardship.
In a letter to the Mboma family, Moffat said: “I have not forgiven myself for the accident and would not expect forgiveness from you.” However, Judge Miller criticised Moffat for failing to take ‘culpability’ over his phone use in the letter.