Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Lying lorry driver jailed for killing two people in M3 crash

Susan Curtis (pictured with her two sons) and Michael James Image copyright Curtis and James families
Image caption Susan Curtis, 67, from Buckinghamshire, (pictured with her sons) and Michael James, 77, from Dorset, died in the crash

A lorry driver who lied to police has been jailed for killing two people whose car was crushed between two HGVs.

Michael James, 77, and his passenger Susan Curtis, 67, were returning from a holiday in June 2017 when they were hit from behind on the M3 near Winchester.

HGV driver John Rogers, 65, told police Mr James had "whipped" in front of him, when he had in fact been following him for more than a minute.

Rogers, from Tredegar, South Wales, was jailed for four years and eight months.

Image caption Motorway cameras proved lorry driver John Rogers was lying about the crash

He previously admitted two counts of causing death by dangerous driving.

Rogers failed to respond for nine seconds to traffic slowing on the northbound approach to junction nine, Winchester Crown Court heard.

His fully-laden articulated lorry crashed at 52mph into the back of Mr James' Audi Q3 at 10:20 BST on 5 June.

The impact forced the lorry into the back of the HGV in front of the Audi.

Image copyright Hampshire Constabulary
Image caption Michael James' car was sandwiched between two lorries

The victim's car was "sandwiched" between the lorries, leading to the deaths of Mr James, from Broadstone, Dorset, and Mrs Curtis, from Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire.

'Confusion and pain'

Rogers initially told police Mr James had "whipped in and all I could do was slam my brakes on".

In fact, motorway cameras showed he had been travelling behind the Audi in the same lane for more than a minute before the crash.

In a statement read out in court, Mrs Curtis' son, Michael Chapman, said the tragedy had caused him lasting "shock, confusion and pain".

Image caption An air ambulance attended the scene of the crash in 2017

A statement, previously released by police on behalf of the family of Mr James, said the father-of two would be "terribly missed by so many".

Judge Susan Evans QC said the reason for Rogers' lack of attention may never be known.

She said: "You did not in fact brake until two or three seconds after the collision."

Rogers, of York Terrace, Tredegar, Blaenau Gwent, was also banned from driving for four years.

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