An HGV driver that killed three people in a devastating collision and then tried to destroy his mobile phone to hide the fact he was using it behind the wheel has been jailed for 12 years.

Michal Kopaniarz pleaded guilty at Winchester Crown Court to causing death by dangerous driving and also perverting the course of justice following the crash on the A303 near Andover in August 2021.

Motorists Alex Britton, Tina Ince and Tom Watson were all pronounced dead at the scene when Kopaniarz was distracted by his phone.

The court heard that Britton’s car broke down in lane one of the westbound carriageway and Ince and Watson – who was driving a breakdown recovery truck – both stopped to see if they could help her.

Following the collision, the HGV driver retrieved his mobile phone from his cab and dashcam footage showed him breaking it in half and then discarding the two parts in the verge.

Police rebuilt and analysed the phone and found the lorry driver had shared and watched a video clip on his mobile phone, which was seven minutes and 28 seconds in length, while driving prior to the collision and had been typing his destination into his phone for directions at the time of the collision.

In a statement following the sentencing, the family of Watson said: “Losing Tom in the way we did was shocking and devastating for all our family. Words seem so useless when trying to explain the extent of our loss. We are a small family and Tom was a special part of it, his absence is felt very deeply.”

Detective Constable Cate Paling said: “This was a catastrophic loss of life.

“Kopaniarz killed three people because he was using his mobile phone and not paying attention to the road.

“The devastating consequences of his selfish actions have torn three families apart.

“More than anything I hope other drivers who think there is no harm in using their phone while driving will consider this case and learn from it.”