A LORRY driver was shopping on his mobile phone seconds before he ploughed through a red light and smashed into a car, killing an army veteran.

Whilst driving his HGV Florin Solomon was using his phone to order goods from Amazon and was so distracted that he did not even brake as he headed through the junction of the East Lancashire Road and Atherleigh Way, Leigh 11 seconds after lights had turned from green.

His vehicle ploughed into 58-year-old former army sergeant Mark Byrne’s Toyota Corolla at 49mph and he died at the scene in the crash at 10.20am on January 21.

Mr Byrne’s wife, Julie, aged 56, who had been with him as they headed home to Warrington from a hospital appointment, was badly injured with a fractured sternum and had to be cut from the wreckage.

In a victim statement, read out at Manchester Crown Court, she told how she had not realised her husband of 37 years was dead beside her.

“I was in a lot of pain and I was scared,” she said.

“I tried to turn to Mark but a man said ‘keep your head still’ so I tried grabbing his clothes and shouting his name. I couldn’t understand why he wasn’t answering me. I didn’t know he was dead.”

She added: "I have lost my soulmate, lover, companion, helper, carer and best friend."

Romanian national Solomon, of Lansdown Way, Worcester, was jailed for four and a half years and banned from driving for five years and 11 months after pleading guilty to causing death and serious injury by dangerous driving.

Judge Graeme Smith told him: “You were solely responsible for the tragedy.

“It was your stupidity and recklessness that led to the accident and that relates to your use of a mobile phone while you were driving.

“Initially you said that you had only used that to place an order with Amazon when you were stopped at a junction but that is not consistent with the evidence that shows the Amazon  app was closed on your phone only three seconds before the accident occurred — in other words, while you were driving headlong towards the lights at 80km an hour.”

At a sentencing hearing held via Skype video conferencing, David Lees, prosecuting, told how Mr Byrne, a grandfather and father-of-three, who had received the MBE for his army service and charity work, had been planning to foster children with his wife in their retirement.

The couple’s car was turning right onto the East Lancs Road when 29-year-old Solomon’s Scania lorry, in which he was delivering fruit and vegetables, ploughed into them.

The incident was captured on Solomon's dashcam and that of a lorry travelling behind him and showed the lights had been on red for eight seconds when he went through them

Mr Lees said the lorry "struck Mr Byrne's car with full force to the side, pushing it down the road. It then collided with the central reservation and came to a halt."

Solomon told police who arrived to arrest him: "I'm going to jail. I went through an amber."

Rebecca Caulfield, defending, stressed that Solomon had been a highly regarded HGV driver with a clean licence and is full of remorse.

"It was Mr Solomon's own stupidity and recklessness that led to the death of Mr Byrne and the injuries to his wife," she said.

"He will have to deal with the fact that he killed someone for the rest of his life."