Two schoolgirls were killed in a horrific traffic accident caused by a lorry driver who was distracted by a mobile phone call to his wife, a jury heard yesterday.
Rebecca Casterton, aged 13 and her 12-year-old friend Lauren Brooks, died when the Renault Clio they were travelling in was clipped by the lorry from behind, Stafford Crown Court heard.
It was alleged that 51-year-old Robert Murray was plugging his phone into a charger after calling his wife when the collision happened on the southbound carriageway of the A38, in Clay Mills, Staffordshire.
The two girls died after their vehicle went spinning into the air, and flew over the central reservation, landing on its roof, the court heard.
Mr Martin Butterworth, prosecuting, told the jury of nine women and three men: "He (Murray) will say that he was plugging his phone into a charger after he concluded a phone call to his wife and you will have to consider his distraction and not being conscious of the car. He simply did not look."
The girls had just been collected from a nearby riding school by Lauren's mother, Mrs Irene Corrie, the court head.
Mr Butterworth added: "Their Renault Clio joined the road in darkness, but their headlights were lit as was the lorry's.
"The Clio was in its correct position on the road in the nearside lane behind a small convoy of other cars and another lorry.
"It was clear Murray accepts that he was overtaking the line of vehicles at the Clay Mills roundabout junction."
"Mrs Corrie was aware of the Volvo coming alongside her in the outside lane. She did not alter her speed and stayed in the same lane but the lorry began to slip backwards into its own lane.
"A witness following said that before the lorry had cleared the Clio it clipped the rear of the car."
Mr Butterworth said Mrs Corrie "had no chance" as the car span out of control.
He added: "There was a terrible series of events. It spun towards the central reservation, struck it, accelerated for a while across both lanes on the opposite side of the road and landed upside down in front of a Mercedes coming towards it.
"There was a terrible impact and the two girls were killed."
Mrs Corrie and a passenger friend were badly shaken, Mr Butterworth said.
He read out a statement from Mrs Corrie which said that the girls were in "good spirits" and were "messing around" before the collision.
The court also heard that a police investigation had found that Murray had been using two phones after leaving his depot.
Mr Butterworth said one of the calls lasted for 55 seconds while Murray was going south on the A38.
Mr Butterworth said Murray did not mention the calls to police, but when confronted he told officers he had used a handsfree phone.
However, the phone did not have a handsfree facility, he added.
Murray, of Summer Crescent, Wrockwardine Wood, Telford, pleaded not guilty to causing deaths by dangerous driving on January 20.