Police are highlighting the potential devastating consequences of using a mobile phone whilst driving after a Galashiels lorry driver was jailed eight years and 10 months following a horrific multi-vehicle crash on the A1(M) motorway.

Ion Nicu Onut, 41, was driving a Scania lorry carrying fertiliser when he lost control near Bowburn, on July 15 last year.

Two lorries and four cars were involved in the collision and David Daglish, 57, and Elaine Sullivan, 59, from Seaham, and Paul Mullen, 51, of Washington, died from their injuries.

Durham Crown Court heard he had been looking at sex dating websites at the time of the crash and did not see the stationary traffic ahead.

Speaking after the sentencing, Sergeant Catherine Iley, from Durham Constabulary, said: “This was a truly harrowing incident for everyone involved and our thoughts remain with the family and friends of Elaine, David, and Paul.

“They have shown great dignity throughout the course of this investigation and have assisted wherever they can, all while trying to come to terms with the loss of their loved ones in such devastating circumstances.

“It was incredibly distressing and upsetting for those who witnessed the collision, and for the emergency responders, including police officers, firefighters and paramedics, who attended the scene. The horror of what they witnessed that day will no doubt remain with them for many years to come.

“Our sincere thanks must go to everyone who helped at the scene. This also includes members of the public, Highways England, and soldiers from the 4th Regiment Royal Artillery based in North Yorkshire who assisted at the scene after being caught up in the resulting traffic jam.

“Mr Onut has admitted his guilt and pleaded guilty at the first available opportunity and while he has shown remorse for his actions, no amount of remorse will bring Elaine, David, and Paul back.

“This case serves as a dreadful warning of what can happen when drivers use a mobile phone or device whilst behind the wheel of a vehicle – irrespective of the purpose of that use, they are a distraction and as shown in this case, that distraction could have devastating and wide reaching consequences.”