Horsebox driver killed by lorry driver on mobile phone: family’s appeal to public

  • The family of a horsebox driver who died when he was hit by a lorry driver using a mobile banking app has urged others not to use their phones while at the wheel.

    Tom Harker, 68, was waiting to turn into his farm in Sadberge, County Durham, in April 2019, when he was hit from behind by an HGV.

    He suffered serious injuries and died at the scene.

    Lorry driver Jordan Leonard, 25, had been so distracted by the app he was using while driving, he failed to notice Mr Harker’s horsebox, “ploughing straight into the back of him”, a Durham Constabulary spokesman said.

    Leonard, of Minerva Close, Newcastle, pleaded guilty to causing death by dangerous driving. He was sentenced to five years in prison, at Teesside Crown Court in September.

    The court was told Leonard would have needed to go through three separate authentication procedures to access his banking.

    Family liaison officer PC Jamie Patel said: “This incident was devastating for both families and could have been avoided.

    “Mr Harker’s family not only lost their beloved husband, father and grandfather, but also their family business.”

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    Mr Harker’s family has shared the story now as the Cleveland and Durham specialist operations unit is taking part in a two-week national crackdown on drivers who use phones at the wheel.

    Drivers using their phones are four times more likely to be involved in a collision as they are less likely to notice and react to hazards if distracted, the Durham Constabulary spokesman explained, adding that smartphones can increase the temptation to make and answer calls but also to select music or respond to social media alerts.

    PC Patel added: “Be in no doubt, you can kill someone. Our message is simple – put the phone away while driving.

    “Don’t make that ‘quick’ glance the last thing you ever do.”

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