Lorry driver jailed of causing death of Cambridgeshire police officer in Wyton crash

Danny Warby

Danny Warby - Credit: Archant

A lorry driver who was looking at his mobile phone moments before a collision that killed a Cambridgeshire police officer has been sentenced to six years in prison.

Sharon Garrett

Sharon Garrett - Credit: Archant

Danny Warby, 28, was driving a 13.6-tonne HGV along the A141 at Wyton, near Huntingdon, on June 6, 2014, when he opened a text message on his phone.

His vehicle crossed the white line in the centre of the road and clipped an oncoming lorry, showering two cars in debris, before crashing into a Renault Clio, which was also in the oncoming line of traffic.

The Clio was being driven by police officer Sharon Garrett, a mother-of-two, who was on her way home from work. She was pronounced dead at the scene.

Warby stood trial last month, after denying a single count of causing death by dangerous driving, and was found guilty by a jury at Peterborough Crown Court.

Today (Monday) Warby appeared at Huntingdon Crown Court, wearing a short sleeved pink shirt and beige chinos.

Helen Guest, prosecuting, said: “We know that Mr Warby that day was operating his handheld mobile phone several times while his vehicle was in motion prior to the collision.”

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The court heard that Warby had made and taken a number of calls and read two text messages on the day of the incident and, prior to the crash, was driving at 58mph in a 40mph zone.

It was revealed, by Judge Stuart Bridge, that Warby has a string of previous convictions relating to dangerous driving.

These included using a mobile phone, which was followed by a charge for driving without insurance, another for speeding and driving while not wearing a seat belt.

In 2011, Warby, of School Road, Runcton Holme, near King’s Lynn, was disqualified for drink driving and was charged with careless driving in 2015.

Mark Balyz, defending, argued that Warby had experienced a micro-sleep just before the crash and was diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnoea in late 2015.

“This offending shows a lack of thinking and a lack of proper cognition,” said Mr Balyz.

“I apologise on behalf of Mr Warby. He is sorry for his offending and this offence. He his particularly sorry for the death of Sharon Garrett and he extends that to the family of Sharon Garrett.”

The court heard that Warby’s father, also a HGV driver, was killed in a head-on collision, when Warby was 16, and Warby took up the same profession following the death as his father had “always wanted him to follow in his footsteps”.

In mitigation, the court was told that since being in custody Warby has been bullied for his size and weight.

“Mr Warby has been vilified on the internet, he has had mail sent to his mother’s home and as he has not been there to read it so she has been,” added Mr Balyz.

In sentencing Judge Bridge explained that Mrs Garrett was an “outstanding police officer” and that her death has been the most “devastating event” in the life of her family.

Mr Bridge concluded that Warby’s was likely apnoea to be a factor in the collision and that it remained unclear whether he was reading the text message at the moment of impact.

Warby was sentenced to six years imprisonment and was also disqualified from driving for 10 years.

Detective Constable Garrett, 48, joined Cambridgeshire Constabulary in 1991 and served in a number of roles across the force, most recently investigating complex fraud offences in the Economic Crime Unit.

In a statement, the family of Mrs Garrett said: “The loss of Sharon has been the most devastating event in the life of our family. It has had an impact on so many people, and for so many reasons.

“As a mother, Sharon was inspirational to our two young children. She would always help them with their studies, setting aside time to make sure homework was completed. She was a very intelligent woman, and extremely knowledgeable about a lot of things.

“Sharon was full of energy. Working full time, she always made sure our children had quality, family time wherever possible.

“Sharon was a truly remarkable woman, warm, friendly, kind, generous, intelligent, strong and hard working. We have been left devastated, and our hearts left completely broken. There is a massive void in our lives which can never be filled.

“No sentencing can ever bring back Sharon, but it is our hope that the sentence passed today will remind others that the simple act of using a mobile phone whilst driving can have such devastating consequences.”