A lorry driver who crashed into a car on the hard shoulder, leaving an eight year old girl with life-changing injuries, has been jailed.
Warwick Crown Court heard how Dominic Nicholls, 51, of Hadleigh, Suffolk, crashed into the back of the family’s Nissan X-Trail which had broken down on the M42 in Warwickshire, in April 2022.
The family were returning from Heathrow Airport after a holiday when the crash happened on the northbound carriageway shortly before midnight on 28 April.
A warning light appeared on their car’s dashboard and they pulled over between junctions eight and nine, near Kingsbury, to investigate the issue.
Nicholls was travelling on the same road about one minute behind the family and “for reasons unknown, the lorry drifted on to the hard shoulder at 55mph and collided with the rear of the X-Trail before the family had time to exit the vehicle”, the court heard.
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The girl, now ten, was taken to Birmingham Children’s Hospital with life-threatening injuries. She survived, but is unable to walk or talk and will need life-long care, the police said. Her parents were also seriously hurt and their son, aged five, sustained minor injuries.
Nicholls pleaded guilty to three counts of dangerous driving causing serious injury at a previous hearing. He was jailed for 30 months
PC Craig Pearson of Warwickshire Police’s serious collision investigation unit, said the lives of the Stafford family had been “devastated by what happened that day.”
PC Pearson said Mr Nicholls had “never provided an explanation” why his HGV travelled directly on to the hard shoulder.
“The dashcam footage from the HGV shows that Nicholls makes no attempt to brake or take avoiding action prior to the collision, he said. “This is a very sad and tragic case.”
At the hearing on 19 October, Nicholls was also disqualified from holding or obtaining a driving licence for eight years and three months, and will have to pass an extended test to drive again. He was also ordered to pay a £190 victim surcharge.
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