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A lorry driver has been jailed for just six months for running over a schoolgirl seconds after texting his girlfriend - and deleting the messages as she lay dying under his wheels.
Darren Foster, 38, crushed Hope Fennell with his 18-ton truck as she cycled over a pedestrian crossing on her way home from school in November 2011.
But instead of rushing to the 13-year-old’s aid, he deleted messages to hide the evidence that he had been distracted at the wheel.
The girl’s devastated family are furious at the sentence, saying Hope’s killer had not been properly punished for driving his truck into their child like a “lethal weapon” and then callously trying to cover his tracks.
“She was mangled under the wheels and he got back in the cab and deleted those texts,” her mother Nazan said. He was only thinking about himself. I don’t know if I will recover from this. I’m devastated.”
Hope, who was a pupil at Queensbridge School, died on Kings Heath High Street, Birmingham, at 5pm on November 7. In the minutes before the crash, Foster, who was delivering his final load of the day, had been sending texts to his girlfriend while driving at up to 55mph.
As Hope crossed the road, he pulled away at a green light and did not see the teenager riding out in front of him.
Foster got out of the vehicle and saw Hope trapped under the wheels of the truck.
But, worried that his text messages would be used as evidence against him, he climbed back into his cab to delete them as she was dying.
At Birmingham Crown Court, Foster was told he will serve just three months of a six-month sentence for dangerous driving and perverting the course of justice. He had earlier pleaded guilty to the offences.
Judge Andrew Menary, QC, said Foster was not to blame for Hope’s death because he could not have seen her as she moved on to the road. Had his poor driving caused her death, Foster would be looking at “years and not months”, he added.
Mrs Fennell said Foster should have faced a manslaughter charge. “He was on the phone while driving something lethal, which he knew had got the potential to kill,” she said.
“He made that choice. It’s like picking up a gun. Hope didn’t stand a chance.
“The fact he was not charged with Hope’s death after he tried to pervert the course of justice shows the system is not right.”
Mrs Fennell, who used to work as a counsellor for drug addicts, added: “I don’t have a family left. I live in a haze, I live in denial that she’ll come back home. I used to work. I can’t do it any more. I don’t go out of my house.”
Ben Gow, prosecuting, said police compared Foster’s telephone billing history with recordings from his lorry’s tachograph, and found he travelled at speeds of 55mph while sending or reading at least 11 text messages in the 20 minutes before the tragedy.
Richard Murray, defending, said Foster had been a driver for 20 years and had a clean record.
He claimed that the teenager’s death had caused the lorry driver to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder. - Daily Mail