Sunderland trucker loses sentence appeal over killing four-year-old girl

Lorry driver Robert Booth outside Solihull Magistrates' Court during the original court case.
Lorry driver Robert Booth outside Solihull Magistrates' Court during the original court case.
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A TRUCKER who killed a four-year-old girl has failed to get his jail sentence cut – but judges have slashed his driving ban.

Priyanka Bhogal was asleep in her family’s car when Robert Booth’s HGV ploughed into the back of it.

Booth, of Brockley Street, Town End Farm, was jailed for four-and-a-half years at Warwick Crown Court in February after he admitted causing death by dangerous driving.

Mr Justice Spencer, sitting in London’s Appeal Court, yesterday refused to reduce his prison sentence, describing it as a “very bad case of its kind”.

However, he agreed to cut Booth’s five-year driving ban to three years.

Booth left Priyanka with fatal injuries after his lorry slammed into the back of her family’s car on the M6 as they travelled home to Coventry from a party in Wallsall, in November 2011.

The 65-year-old was travelling at 55mph in a 40mph speed zone.

A witness described how his lorry seemed to almost “punt” the family’s Zephyr across the road.

Mr Justice Spencer said that “mercifully” Priyanka was asleep when the lorry struck, dying from her injuries in hospital.

Her eight-year-old sister was severely injured and left deeply traumatised by the experience of watching her sister die.

Priyanka’s parents had submitted moving testimonies to the court, speaking of the “abyss” into which their lives had been plunged.

Booth was said to be a man of previous “unblemished” character – described by all who knew him as caring and humane.

He was plagued by remorse and had suffered deep depression due to his guilt. There was no clear explanation for his dangerous driving that day, the court heard.

Booth had at one point produced expert medical evidence suggesting he may have fallen momentarily asleep due to a rare condition, but he ultimately pleaded guilty part-way through his trial.

He was guilty of a “sustained period” of bad driving, having ploughed on at high speed when other vehicles were slowing down due to traffic congestion.

Mr Justice Spencer, sitting with Lord Justice Laws and Mr Justice Haddon-Cave, upheld Booth’s jail term, saying: “I am unable to say that the sentence was manifestly excessive”.

But, going on to reduce his driving ban, the judge said he might otherwise never be able to work again on the roads due to his advancing years.

“Whether he would ever want to drive again for a living is another matter, but it was an error to impose such a long ban.”