Footballer fatally ploughed into couple as he tried to use his phone as a SatNav

An ex-professional footballer has been jailed after trying to use his phone as a sat nav while driving a lorry which then fatally ploughed into a "loving couple."

Steven Bennett, who played a handful of games for Barnsley in the Championship during a "promising" early professional career a decade ago, was jailed for five years for causing death by dangerous driving today.

Chester Crown Court heard that he had been using his phone as a sat nav and had been trying to re-plug it in the seconds before the 50mph collision between his 10-tonne truck and the vehicle of Richard and Angela Wong, from south Manchester, who were married for 37 years.

Bennett, 29, had driven from south Yorkshire to Cheshire and was on his way back on the day of the tragedy, September 19, 2019.

Richard, 62, and Angela Wong, 56, were returning from their caravan in Wales they had just purchased, the Manchester Evening News reported.

Mrs Wong was driving their Toyota on the eastbound M56 with her husband in the passenger seat.

At around 5:15pm, the couple found themselves at the back of a queue of stationary traffic as they waited to come off the motorway at junction 9, the Lymm interchange, where it meets the M6, the court heard.

Bennett, driving a 10 tonne yellow Daf engineering truck, was directly behind them in the inside of two lanes on the slip-road, however he failed to slow down and ploughed into the back of them whilst travelling at around 50mph.

'There is no indication the brakes were applied, if at all, until the last second before the collision," Brian Williams, prosecuting, told Chester Crown Court.

That caused the Toyota to hit a van in front of them and led to 'several subsequent collisions', the court was told.

Both Mr and Mrs Wong suffered 'catastrophic injuries' as a result of the crash.

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Mrs Wong was pronounced dead at the scene. Mr Wong was rushed to hospital where he died three days later.

In court, both of the couple's children, Robert and Charlotte Wong, described sitting at their father's bedside and having to take the 'extremely difficult' decision to switch off his life-support machine.

In a police interview, Bennett said he had been 'momentarily distracted' by a bird flying across his path.

However his phone had been propped up on the dashboard behind the steering wheel, Mr Williams said.

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And a forensic analysis of it showed it had been plugged and unplugged, and that the screen orientation had changed twice in the time Bennett was approaching the Wong's car.

Cheshire Police added afterwards that their investigations found Bennett was using the phone 'on a regular basis' on his journey from Liverpool.

Bennett, of Barnsley, pleaded guilty two counts of causing death by dangerous driving on the day a trial was due to begin last month.

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