A 64-year-old lorry driver was jailed for four-and-a-half years today – the same age as the little girl he killed in a horrific motorway crash.
Robert Booth was driving his 44-tonne HGV at its maximum speed of 55mph seconds before he smashed into stationary traffic on the M6 motorway near Coleshill, Warks.
He ploughed into the back of a Vauxhall Zafira, sending it careering across the road into a concrete barrier on the hard shoulder leaving tot Priyanka Bhogal with fatal head injuries.
Seven other people were also injured in the crash between Junctions 4a and 4 of the southbound M6 at 12.25am on November 27, 2011 – which saw the motorway closed for more than six hours.
Booth initially denied causing death by dangerous driving claiming he suffered from sleep apnea syndrome which meant he was asleep at the time of the crash but later changed his plea to guilty.
Yesterday Booth, of Sunderland, Tyne and Wear, was jailed for four-and-a-half years at Warwick Crown Court and banned from driving for five years.
After the case, Priyanka’s devastated family, from Coventry, said: “The sentence handed down to Mr Booth was another milestone in this dark chapter of our lives.
“We have had to wait and suffer to see justice done for over a year, on top of coming to terms of the loss of our daughter Priyanka under such tragic circumstances.
“We would like to thank West Midlands Police and the CPS again for their diligence and efforts to ensure justice was done.
“The sentence Mr Booth has been given is nothing compared to the sentence which we will face for the rest of our lives.
“There will never be a day when we won’t remember the warmth and love we received from our daughter and the pain we feel from losing her.
“The trial was emotionally and physically draining and during the trial we had to relive the horrific and painful events of the night of 27 November 2011 again.
“We often ask ourselves how we would act had we killed a four-year-old child as a result of driving dangerously.
“We can honestly say that we would come forward and take responsibility for our mistake.
“We would want the family to know how genuinely sorry we were and do everything possible not to cause them any further pain or suffering.
“It’s very difficult for us to forgive someone whose actions since that night have demonstrated no genuine remorse or regret and have been designed only to try and escape justice.”
Booth ignored several signs on overhead motorway gantries warning of a minor collision further ahead and ordering them to drive at a maximum of 40mph.
The brightly-lit signs also instructed drivers to move from the inside lane to the middle lane in order to avoid the accident – which Booth also ignored.
The Bhogal family had been driving home to Coventry after a family member’s 40th birthday party the day before in Walsall, West Mids.
Tachograph records from Booth’s lorry were analysed and showed police he was travelling at his maximum speed of 55mph.
Sergeant Gavin Green, from the Regional Collision Investigation Unit of West Midlands Police, said: “We are pleased with the sentence which reflects the severity of Booth’s crime and how seriously the courts view dangerous driving.
“This brings to an end a complex and distressing investigation, which we hope will bring some small consolation to the family of Priyanka, whose lives were shattered by her death.
“Our thoughts remain with them as they attempt to come to terms with their loss.”