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Upminster lorry driver jailed over death of cyclist

Dan-constantin Caraza

A lorry driver from Upminster has been jailed after causing the death of a 65-year-old cyclist.

Dan-constantin Caraza, 30, of Bridge Avenue, had been using his phone while behind the wheel of a cement mixer lorry in Suffolk in October 2018.

Dashcam footage from his vehicle showed Caraza veering in the moment’s leading up to the collision.

Witnesses reported seeing Caraza looking down into his lap while driving, and not focusing on the road ahead of him.

He failed to spot Brian Riley, who was pushing his bicycle along the nearside of the road and was beyond the white line.

Caraza did not brake as the collision took place and hit Mr Riley from behind.

Emergency services were called and arrived within a matter of minutes but, despite the best efforts of paramedics, Mr Riley died at the scene of the collision.

Analysis of Caraza’s mobile phone found it had been active at the time of the collision, as it had been on a number of occasions earlier the same morning.

After the collision, a camera on the outside of Caraza’s vehicle then captured him exit the cab and place a mobile phone into an external compartment, before going to check on Mr Riley.

WARNING: The footage below shows the moments leading up to the collision and some people may find this upsetting.

Caraza pleaded guilty to causing death by dangerous driving and admitted in court that he had been distracted by his mobile phone, but claimed he had not been using it.

He denied a second charge of committing an act with intent to pervert the course of justice, by concealing the phone, and prosecutors opted to not pursue this matter following his admission of the other offence and it will lie on the file.

Appearing at Ipswich Crown Court yesterday, Caraza was sentenced to three years and four months’ imprisonment.

Detective Inspector Chris Hinitt, of the Serious Collision Investigation Unit, said: “This was another completely avoidable death, caused by a professional driver who showed complete disregard for the lives and safety of other road users.

“The weather conditions that day were clear and fine and Mr Riley would have been visible at a distance of several hundred metres ahead, so it is clear that Caraza had been distracted for a considerable length of time, which the witness testimonies support.

“By comparing Caraza’s phone data with the onboard cameras, our investigators found that he had been using his mobile phone while driving on a number of occasions that morning, and that during these periods the vehicle had often strayed from the correct lane and been driven at excess speed.

“I struggle to find the right words to express my feelings about this incident and the sheer mindlessness that brought a very sudden and abrupt end to a 65-year-old man’s life.

“The reckless driving was compounded by the fact that after the collision, Caraza’s first thought was where to put his phone, rather than rush to the assistance of the man he had just hit – truly shocking behaviour.

“This should highlight to motorists beyond any doubt what a dangerous combination mobile phones and driving are. It does not matter whether you are using the phone to make a call or send a message, or whether you are looking at it and therefore distracted by it, either way you are gambling with the lives of others.

“The message is simple – put your phone away when you are driving. If caught using or holding your phone, at best you will receive six points on your licence and a £200 fine. At worst, you could be responsible for killing someone.”

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