A man who killed three people in a devastating crash on the A303 near Andover has been jailed for 12 years.
Michal Antoni Kopaniarz, 39, of Park Road in Donnington, Shropshire, was sentenced today (24 February) at Winchester Crown Court for the deaths of Alex Britton, Tina Ince and Tom Watson.
Kopaniarz pleaded guilty to causing their deaths by dangerous driving, as he was using his mobile phone at the time of the fatal collision on Wednesday 25 August 2021.
He also admitted to one charge of perverting the course of justice, after dash-cam footage caught him trying to destroy and discard his phone to hide the fact he had been using it while driving.
Sadly, Alex Britton, 28, from Fifth Avenue, Portsmouth, Tina Ince, 58, from Lydgate Road, Southampton, and Tom Watson, 30, from Cheriton Avenue, Southampton, all from separate vehicles, were pronounced dead at the scene.
The court heard Miss Britton was driving her black Vauxhall Astra when her car broke down in lane 1 of the westbound carriageway.
Ms Ince had been driving her company vehicle, a food delivery van, directly behind Miss Britton and stopped to see if she could assist. Mr Watson, driving a breakdown recovery truck, saw them and stopped to see if he could help.
Kopaniarz was driving a HGV westbound along the A303 and collided into the three vehicles. Miss Britton, Ms Ince and Mr Watson all died instantly.
Following the collision, Kopaniarz retrieved his Samsung phone from the cab of his lorry. He took the phone to the side of the vehicle where he broke the phone in half and discarded the two parts in the verge.
The court was shown dash-cam footage of this act being caught on camera, which police used to retrieve the parts of the phone in order for it to be rebuilt and analysed.
Footage of Kopaniarz attempting to destroy and discard his mobile phone after the collision.
This analysis showed Kopaniarz had shared and watched a video clip on his mobile phone, which was seven minutes and 28 seconds in length, while driving prior to the collision and had been typing his destination into his phone for directions at the time of the collision.
Detective Constable Cate Paling, the lead investigator of the Roads Policing Serious Collision Investigation Unit, said: "This was a catastrophic loss of life.
"Kopaniarz killed three people because he was using his mobile phone and not paying attention to the road.
"The devastating consequences of his selfish actions have torn three families apart.
"While the sentence passed today will not heal their pain, we are pleased our investigation has provided answers and justice to the loved ones of Alex, Tina and Tom.
"More than anything I hope other drivers who think there is no harm in using their phone while driving will consider this case and learn from it.
"Nothing on your phone could ever be important enough to risk killing another person.
"I hope the dedication of our officers in this case proves how committed we are to catching dangerous drivers and holding them accountable for the lives they ruin."
Dash-cam footage from the HGV driven by Kopaniarz moments before the collision
Paying tribute to Tom, the Watson family said: "On the 25th August 2021, all our lives changed forever following the actions of Michal Kopaniarz.
"Losing Tom in the way we did was shocking and devastating for all our family. Words seem so useless when trying to explain the extent of our loss. We are a small family and Tom was a special part of it, his absence is felt very deeply.
"We are now left trying to adjust our lives without him by our sides, but we know we must try to carry on and support each other through this.
"Enduring the trial has been very difficult and brought back many memories of Tom. We would like to thank everyone for their support as we continue our journey of grieving our Tom.
"We will respect the court's decision but no sentence will ever compensate us for Tom's life. We all now must try and move forward knowing that we have a lifetime ahead of us without Tom."
The Britton family added: "Alex was a beautiful person, both inside and out.
"She was kind and thoughtful, sensitive but strong and had a wicked sense of humour. She would do anything for anyone and was amazingly caring. It is fair to say that everyone needs a friend like Alex in their lives.
"She was an amazing mummy to her two young daughters, aged just three years and 17 months when she was taken away from them. Alex was a big family person with a heart of gold and absolutely adored her girls. They were her life and she would do anything and everything for them.
"Alex's passing has left a massive hole in all of our hearts and we have all lost our much loved mummy, daughter, fiancée, sister, auntie and friend. A deep sense of loss is always with us and it is hard to imagine life without Alex.
"Our heartfelt sympathies go to the families of Tina and Tom who stopped to help Alex and who also lost their lives. No words will ever be enough.
"This is a serious message to all those who think driving and being on a mobile phone is okay. Whether in a car, van or HGV, the consequences can be catastrophic."
Tina Ince's daughter Melissa said: "It has been an extremely long, and difficult, process to get to this stage.
"No court sentence will ever be enough to make up for the loss of my mum and the other loved ones who died that day. However, I am relieved that justice has been served and the person responsible for this tragedy has finally been held accountable for his actions."
If you know someone who is using their mobile phone while driving, please call 101 or report online