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Family of killed girl demand tough sentence for Sunderland trucker

Lorry driver Robert Booth covers his face as he leaves Solihull Magistrates' Court, where he was accused of killing a four-year-old Priyanka Bhogal in a crash on the M6 near Solihull last year.  PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday April 12, 2012. Booth, 63, was not required to enter a formal plea to a charge of causing death by dangerous driving during a short appearance before magistrates. See PA story COURTS Crash. Photo credit should read: Matthew Cooper/PA Wire

Lorry driver Robert Booth covers his face as he leaves Solihull Magistrates' Court, where he was accused of killing a four-year-old Priyanka Bhogal in a crash on the M6 near Solihull last year. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday April 12, 2012. Booth, 63, was not required to enter a formal plea to a charge of causing death by dangerous driving during a short appearance before magistrates. See PA story COURTS Crash. Photo credit should read: Matthew Cooper/PA Wire

THE family of Priyanka Bhogal has called for a tough sentence for killer trucker Robert Booth.

The four-year-old’s parents spoke out after Wearsider Booth changed his plea to guilty part way through a train for causing death by dangerous driving.

The 64-year-old, of Brockley Street, Town End Farm, ploughed into the rear of her family’s Vauxhall Zafira people carrier on the M6, in the West Midlands, in November 2011.

It was said he ignored speed limit signs, warning signs and what was going on ahead of him.

After the hearing at Warwick Crown Court, Priyanka’s parents Jaginder and Baljit Bhogal said: “Our lives were shattered forever when Robert Booth ran his 44-tonne lorry directly into the back of our car at a speed significantly in excess of the limit in place at the time.

“The impact was so massive it killed our beautiful four-year-old daughter Priyanka as she slept peacefully in the car.

“It is very difficult for us to explain how painful and broken and empty our lives are without our loving daughter.

“There will never be a day when we won’t remember the happiness she gave us and the tragic events of that night.”

The couple, from Coventry, hit out at Booth, adding: “The evidence supporting the case was overwhelming.

“His driving was so dangerous on that night that it was a miracle there weren’t further fatalities.

“Despite this overwhelming evidence, he proceeded to plead not guilty. To date, he has shown little remorse or sincere regret.

“We hope the sentencing reflects the distress and loss we feel every day from having out little angel Priyanka taken from us.”

Booth claimed to police he was driving to the road conditions and the stipulations of the road signs, and braked to avoid colliding with the Zafira, but that “the collision could not be avoided”.

But police accident investigator Pc Mark Weaver said the artic’s tachograph showed the driver was not sticking to the 40mph speed limit in place. “The final six seconds are the emergency braking of the lorry from a speed of 55mph down to zero.

“Prior to that, it had been travelling at 55mph, which is its maximum speed.

“My conclusions are that when the driver reacted to the vehicle in front of him it was unavoidable – he was never going to stop in time.”

It had been claimed by the defence that, unknown to him, Booth was suffering from sleep apnoea syndrome at the time – and had fallen asleep at the wheel.

But after an adjournment on the second day of his trial, after an expert had given evidence about his supposed sleep apnoea, Booth dramatically changed his plea.

Judge Sylvia de Bertodano granted Booth bail until the sentencing hearing, on February 25.

But she warned him: “Please do not be under any illusions. I am releasing you on bail, but it will inevitably be a sentence of custody, and it will inevitably be measured in years.”

Twitter: @sunderlandecho

 
 
 

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