A LORRY driver has today been jailed for almost nine years for killing three people in a horrific multi-vehicle crash on the motorway near Durham last summer.

Ion Nicu Onut, 41, was driving a Scania lorry carrying fertiliser when he lost control on the A1(M) at Bowburn, on July 15 last year.

Read more: Lorry driver who killed three people in County Durham A1(M) crash is jailed

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.

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.

Read more: Lorry driver who killed three people was surfing sex sites at time of crash

Several people were also injured in the crash, on the northbound carriageway near junction 61, and one of the lorries caught fire.

Here, we look back at the chain of events that unfolded last summer and how the police managed to bring the driver to justice.

Read more: Harrowing footage released by police shows danger of driving and using a phone

July 15 - 6.20pm

Durham Police receive reports in their control room of a serious collision on the A1(M) near Coxhoe at about 6.20pm tonight

Seven crews, along with the incident command unit and senior officers all attended, along with a crew and a Heavy Rescue Unit from Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service.

The road was closed in both directions. 

July 15 - 6.30pm

On arrival at the scene, emergency crews were faced with a multi-vehicle collision across both carriageways and a heavy goods vehicle which was well alight.

Firefighters worked over the next hour to ensure the fire was under control as well assisting colleagues from the North East Ambulance Service and The Great North Air Ambulance with casualties.

July 15 - 8pm

Durham Polcie were now able to confirm more details about the crash. It involved four cars and two lorries, one of which caught fire as a result of the collision.

They also sadly confirmed three people had died at the scene - a man who was driving a Toyota Hilux and a man and a woman who were in a Vauxhall Crossland.

Formal identification was expected to take some time. However, families were informed and were supported by specially trained officers.

Several others were injured in the collision, with two requiring hospital treatment.

A 41-year-old man – the driver of one of the lorries – was arrested on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving. He remains in police custody.

Due to the complexity of the scene, there was ongoing work to safely recover evidence and remove vehicles which will take some time.

July 15 - 9pm

An online portal was set up by police to allow people to submit information in relation to the incident, as well as dashcam footage and photographs.

Motorists are also warned the A1 will remain closed in both directions between junctions 60 and 62 for a number of hours and to find an alternative route. Diversions were put in place.

July 16 

Drivers are told the A1(M) near Durham will remain closed in both directions throughout the day following an horrific crash the night before.

A Durham Police spokesperson said: "The A1(M) between Bradbury and Carrville is expected to remain closed in both directions throughout Friday morning while our investigators continue to work at the scene.

"We would ask all motorists to avoid the area and please find alternative routes."

Officers again said they would like to speak to anyone who has any dashcam footage of the incident.

July 17

The A1(M) finally reopened at Bowburn in both directions around 36 hours after the fatal crash

The 41-year-old man – the driver of one of the lorries – who was arrested on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving remained in police custody.

Police thanked motorists for their patience and understanding at this time.

July 23

Tributes were paid to a loving couple who died in the crash.

Elaine Sullivan, 59, and David Daglish, 57, of Seaham, sadly suffered fatal injuries and died at the scene.

In a joint statement, the couple’s families said: “Our world has been shattered into a million pieces.

“Elaine and Dave were incredibly kind-hearted, loving and supportive parents, grandparents, family members and friends.

“Their premature departure has left behind an irreparable hole in both our families and the local community; their kind and devoted selves will never be forgotten.”

Tributes have also been paid to 51-year-old Paul Mullen, of Washington, who also lost his life during the incident.

All families are being supported by specially trained officers.

The 41-year-old man – the driver of one of the lorries – who was arrested on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving has now been released on bail.

October 19

The lorry driver involved in a fatal motorway crash which killed three people is charged with causing death by dangerous driving.

The Crown Prosecution Service authorised Durham Constabulary to bring charges against a 41-year-old man involved in the collision.

Ion Nicu Onut was charged with three counts of causing death by dangerous driving.

He was remanded on police bail.

A CPS North East Spokesperson said: “The Crown Prosecution Service has authorised Durham Constabulary to charge a man in relation to a fatal road traffic accident which occurred on Thursday July 15 on the A1(M) northbound carriageway, near junction 61.

“The Crown Prosecution Service reminds all concerned that criminal proceedings against Mr Onut are now active and that he has a right to a fair trial.

“It is extremely important that there should be no reporting, commentary or sharing of information online which could in any way prejudice these proceedings.”

January 11

Ion Nicu Onut, 41, was jailed for almost nine years for causing the crash.

He was driving a Scania lorry carrying fertiliser when he lost control on the A1. 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.

Onut of Galashiels, Scotland, admitted three counts of causing death by dangerous driving at an earlier court hearing in December.

udge James Adkin jailed him for eight years and ten months.

The judge said: “You were preoccupied with forming casual sexual relationships with strangers while driving down the motorway at 50mph.

“You failed to see the traffic. The consequences were catastrophic.

“The lives of those close to those who died will forever be blighted by their untimely demise.”

The judge said he will serve half of his sentence in prison and the rest on licence, meaning he will be free in four years and five months.

Onut will also be banned from diving for a total of ten years when he is released.

Dashcam footage collected as part of the official investigation showing the lorry driving up the central reservation with a burning vehicle stuck beneath the cab was relased by police to highlight the perils of dangerous driving.

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