Sainsbury’s lorry driver Dean Phoenix (pictured) has been cleared of causing death by dangerous after knocking down and killing Jaiden, three
The family of a three-year-old boy who was knocked down and killed by a Sainsbury’s lorry driver stormed out of court today after he was cleared of causing death by dangerous driving.
Driver Dean Phoenix collided with toddler Jaiden Morgan in Wareham, Dorset, after failing to see a red light.
Phoenix had been distracted after sarcastically clapping another motorist in a road rage dispute.
He pulled away and hit the three-year-old, who was crossing the road with his family, causing chest and abdominal injuries from which he died.
Phoenix admitted causing death by careless driving but was cleared of the more serious charge after a two-day trial.
On hearing the verdict Jaiden’s distraught parents, James Mangan and Yasmin Dougan, broke down in tears and stormed out of court.
Phoenix, 44, from Chineham, Hampshire, will be sentenced on Friday after the trial at Bournemouth Crown Court.
Dashcam from the incident showed the oncoming lorry and a Vauxhall Astra blocking its path as the lights turned red.
At that moment Phoenix clapped the illegally parked car and moments later knocked over Jaiden, who was riding his balance bike alongside his sister and their mother Yasmin Dougan.
Dashcam from the incident show the oncoming lorry and the Vauxhall Astra blocking its path as the lights turned red
The young boy suffered fatal injuries and died in hospital on March 29 last year, a day before his fourth birthday.
In court Phoenix admitted he had ‘made a mistake, saying he had been distracted at the time because he was ‘sarcastically clapping’ another motorist just as he drove off.
He told the jury: ‘I wasn’t expecting anyone to be on the crossing.
Jaiden (pictured) suffered fatal chest and abdominal injuries, he died in hospital on March 29 last year, a day before his fourth birthday
‘I couldn’t see the traffic lights, I thought they were still green. I hadn’t seen anyone approach the lights or push the button.
‘All my concentration was on looking ahead at the situation and moving forward so I could free up the traffic.
‘It was an accident, I made a mistake, that’s why I pleaded guilty to careless driving.
‘I never wanted to be in that position. I just went to work that morning, I didn’t go to hurt anyone.
‘I came across that situation and moved forward when I shouldn’t have done.’
Phoenix was distracted as he clapped the illegally parked car. Moments later he knocked over the young boy, who was riding his balance bike alongside his sister and their mother Yasmin Dougan
Phoenix told the jury: ‘All my concentration was on looking ahead at the situation and moving forward so I could free up the traffic’ (Sainsbury’s truck on the left)
Asked by Stuart Ellacott, prosecuting, about his hand gestures and clapping, Phoenix said: “I was frustrated.”
After today’s verdict Inspector Joe Pardey, of Dorset Police, said: ‘It’s a tragic case and it shows the importance for drivers to be fully aware of their surroundings, no matter what they are confronted with.
‘Mr Phoenix placed his vehicle on a pedestrian crossing, not being able to see the lights and not being able to observe the potential hazards that faced him.
‘The lack of a few checks that would have been obvious to a competent and careful driver led to the death of Jaiden.
Phoenix told the court: ‘It was an accident, I made a mistake, that’s why I pleaded guilty to careless driving. I never wanted to be in that position. I just went to work that morning, I didn’t go to hurt anyone’
Graham Booker (pictured), the Astra driver, admitted to charges of driving without due care and attention and causing a vehicle to stop within the limits of a puffin crossing
‘Mr Phoenix has admitted some responsibility in the death of Jaiden and no sentence is ever going to replace his life.
‘I’d like to praise the initial members of the public and emergency services who attended and made the very best efforts they could to save Jaiden’s life.
‘Our thoughts are with the family and I hope this will bring them one step of closure in this tragic incident.’
Last year Booker, the Astra driver, admitted charges of driving without due care and attention and causing a vehicle to stop within the limits of a puffin crossing.
The 71-year-old was fined £265 and ordered to pay costs of £85 and a £30 victim surcharge. He was also disqualified from driving for three months.