A lorry driver for A Tring firm has been jailed for four years whose severe lapse in concentration while ‘daydreaming about a family wedding in Egypt’ killed a seven-year-old boy.
Christopher Mallett, 34, who worked for JR Smith Transport in Tring, was found guilty of causing the death by dangerous driving of Mohammed Ali Ahmed, who attended Haydon Abbey School in Aylesbury, on the A4146 Stoke Hammond Bypass on March 20 last year.
A victim impact statement written by the youngster’s uncle Mohammed Yaqoob on behalf of the family described a bright and healthy boy who was much longed for, after his parents suffered the devastation of losing children in infancy due to an inherited condition.
It also told how Mohammed was so close to his cousin, who was in the same school year at Haydon Abbey that the pair had to be put into separate classes so they could both focus.
But at break times and after school they were inseparable.
The court heard how on March 20 Mohammed’s aunt Sajida Parveen pulled over onto a soft grass verge when the ‘clutch went completely’ on her Toyota Rav 4 vehicle, which was carrying Mohammed, another child and her aunt.
The family, who were returning from a trip to Costco did not feel that it was safe to get out of the car, instead unbuckling their seatbelts and waiting for help to arrive.
But after a ‘20 second distraction’ Mallett’s blue lorry ploughed into the stationary car.
The court heard that Mohammed was killed after being thrown from the car.
Two other passengers suffered serious injuries, while another suffered minor injuries.
Married father Mallett, who Judge Francis Sherridan accepted was remorseful for his actions, pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of causing death by careless driving, admitting that he has been ‘in a bubble’ prior to the crash.
The driver, of Clyde Place, Bletchley, contested the more serious charge, but a jury found him guilty.
Sentencing Mallet to four years in jail, as well as a three-and-a-half year driving ban, Judge Sherridan said: “The defendant is a very experienced lorry driver, he drives 80,000 miles a year, he worked for a highly respected firm in the logistics industry.
“He did not look where he was going, but I rule out based on the evidence that he may have used a mobile phone.”
He added: “The defendant told the court that he was daydreaming in a bubble, thinking about a family wedding in Egypt, but he can’t even be sure about that.
“This case is so sad for everyone, that for the first time I went and drove that reconstructed route again.”
And Judge Sherridan turned to the family, who were sitting in court to hear the verdict, and spoke directly to them.
He said: “Two families are now devastated, one effectively destroyed. They can never bring back Mohammed, but can treasure the lovely memories.”
He added: “I can’t understand how anyone couldn’t have seen that vehicle, and neither can the defendant.”