Chorley death driver sentence: Heartbroken parents of Joe Cairns, who was killed in M58 crash, address court
"I have an overwhelming sense of despair knowing I will never hear my little boy say 'Mum' again."
Those were the harrowing words of the mum of schoolboy Joe Cairns, who left for school one morning and never came home.
Joe, 14, from Bury, and teaching assistant Anne Kerr, 50, lost their lives to Chorley HGV driver James Majury as they travelled to Pontville School in Ormskirk in a minibus on January 8, 2019.
Majury, 33, of Milton Road, Coppull, ploughed his 19 tonne vehicle into the minibus on the M58 as traffic slowed for roadworks, seriously injuring five other people and causing minor injuries to others caught up in the carnage.
Phone and tachograph evidence showed how throughout his journey he had been texting and using mobile phone apps while driving, including using Facebook moments before the collision.
Joe's mum Steph Cairns described how the youngster loved animals, especially their pet dogs Poppy and Gogo, and was dreaming of starting his own business by the beach walking dogs and was about to start a care course at school.
The mum-of-four told the court her "beautiful baby boy", who had been born a healthy weight, had started to attend Pontville as the family felt it was perfect to help him through his autism, ADHD and sensory issues.
He loved Dr Who, superheroes, holidays and cartoons.
Speaking of their special bond she said: " Joe had a wicked sense of humour despite his tender years.
"He made me laugh every day, he was a joy. We had such a special bond.
"Everything I did was for Joe and it's fair to say my life revolved around him.
"He was my special little boy.
"He did like to tease me but I wouldn't have changed him for the world."
She described how the day before his death on January 7 she gave Joe a retro Nintendo game with old Super Mario games on, which he played with his brother.
He was anxious about his return to school and had fallen asleep in her arms in her bed.
The next day she heard about the accident on the news and was immediately worried.
She said: " I stood by the window watching for someone to come and tell me my baby boy was ok."
Recalling when police contacted her she said it was the " worst thing I've ever felt, adding: " I just broke down, I felt numb and I didn't want to believe it.
"He needed us to go to the mortuary at the Royal Preston Hospital so Joe could be formally identified. I saw Joe lying there lifeless. It was terrible, I wasn't allowed to touch him, I wasn't allowed to kiss him.
"All I wanted to do was hug my baby and tell him everything was going to be fine."
Joe's dad, Andy Cairns, broke down as he said the pain of knowing the driver was on his phone was " excruciating".
He said: "Seeing Joe at the chapel of rest battered and bruised crushed my heart."
Judge Robert Altham will pass sentence tomorrow.