Truck driver who killed three people in crash “had visited dating sites”

A truck driver who got into stopped traffic on a freeway and killed three people had visited adult dating sites on his phone moments before, a court heard.

Dash camera footage showed the Ion Onut cabin caught on fire and traveled a further 100m along the A1 (M) in County Durham after the initial crash caused a explosion.

Onut was jailed for eight years and 10 months at Durham Crown Court after admitting three counts of causing death by dangerous driving.

Couple David Daglish and Elaine Sullivan of Seaham, County Durham, and Paul Mullen of Washington, Tyne and Wear, died instantly.

Ion Onut was jailed for eight years and 10 months at Durham Crown Court (Durham Police / PA)

Onut had researched the Shag Today and Mystic Match sites, had spent nearly £ 50 interacting with users, and was reviewing profiles and editing his for 40 minutes before the smash.

His last interaction on his phone took place seconds before the collision and he was “totally oblivious” of the vehicles stationary in front of him, we learned in court.

Onut, 41, did not brake before entering the line of traffic at 58 mph.

It first struck the back of the Vauxhall Crossland containing Mr Daglish, 57, and Ms Sullivan, 59, then smashed Mr Mullen, 51, Toyota Hilux under another truck before continuing along from the road, injuring three others.

Judge James Adkin, who banned Onut from driving for 10 years after his release, said: “You weren’t sleeping while driving which would have been bad enough, in fact you were scouring the internet for sex partners occasional “.

Onut, who was living with his family in Galashiels, Scotland and working for a transport company, was heading north with a load of fertilizer when he caused the crash around 6:15 p.m. on July 15, 2021.

Ion Onut court case
Paul Mullen, of Washington, Tyne and Wear, was one of those killed (Durham Police / PA)

A previous incident had caused a buildup of traffic and warning signs alerted drivers of delays and told them to slow down, with other motorists observing a 50 mph limit put in place.

But Onut was seen crossing tracks before the crash, which happened near the Bowburn junction, and did not slow down.

Nick Dry, prosecuting, said analysis of Onnut’s phone showed he had used it a lot while driving his truck and had been surfing the internet for 40 minutes before the collision.

Mr Dry said: “The phone was found to be in constant use.

“History has shown that the accused accessed two adult dating sites – one, Shag Today, and the other called Mystic Match.

“He had done it by driving at speeds that never dropped below 50 mph.”

Mr Dry added, “He was completely engrossed in Internet activity, seeking sexual gratification, for a long period of time while controlling a large utility vehicle on a busy highway.”

Private Junior Sullivan, who lost his mother and stepfather, told the court he felt “unbearable rage at the sight of other drivers using their cell phones.”

Mr Mullen, a hardworking family man, was a loving father to his three children and was close to becoming a grandfather, his daughter Orlaigh told court.

Lauren Cawton survived but ended up with chronic leg pain and said her life was ruined, while Molly Smith said the collision had left her stressed, angry and guilty over the past few weeks of her pregnancy.

Truck driver Michael Hosty ran to help Onut get out of his burning cabin and remembered grabbing him and saying, “Look, buddy, if you don’t help me, we’re all going. two die. “

Mr Hosty now suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, but said his suffering was not comparable to that of the families of the victims.

Richard Bloomfield, defending, said Onnut felt remorse and conveyed the accused’s apologies for the “devastation” he caused.

Sergeant Catherine Iley said after the incident: “It was incredibly distressing and upsetting for those who witnessed the collision and for emergency responders, including police, firefighters and paramedics, who were on the job. went to the scene.

“The horror of what they witnessed that day will undoubtedly stay with them for many years to come.”

Comments are closed.