Dad of teen killed in Lancashire crash says meeting son's killer helped him cope with loss

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The bereaved dad of a teenager who was killed in a motorway crash in Lancashire has said meeting his son's killer has helped him cope with his loss.

Andy O'Dell's son Joe Cairns, 14, was killed when HGV driver James Majury ploughed into a school minibus on the M58 in Lancashire in January 2019.

Majury, who had been using his phone throughout his journey, also killed support worker Anne Kerr, 50, and injured five others in the horror crash.

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He was jailed for eight years and 10 months for the death by dangerous driving offences and two years and eight months for the causing serious injury offences.

As part of the restorative justice scheme, Andy, 54, was able to speak to Majury in prison.

Andy O'Dell with son Joe Cairns (Credit: Andy O'Dell / SWNS)Andy O'Dell with son Joe Cairns (Credit: Andy O'Dell / SWNS)
Andy O'Dell with son Joe Cairns (Credit: Andy O'Dell / SWNS) | Andy O'Dell / SWNS

And while he's not able to say what they discussed during the meeting, Andy says he was able to 'get the answers he needed' from his son's killer.

He said: "I was very nervous to meet him before.

"I was angry but not as angry as I've previously been - if he offered to shake my hand or anything like that, then I didn't answer.

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"I had a lot of questions to ask him that never came out in court and I got the answers that I needed from him.

James Majury had been using his phone throughout his journey before the collision (Credit: SWNS)James Majury had been using his phone throughout his journey before the collision (Credit: SWNS)
James Majury had been using his phone throughout his journey before the collision (Credit: SWNS) | SWNS.COM

"I also got to see that he was remorseful. It really did help me with my grieving process.

"I don't know if it helps everyone, but it really helped me to move on and helped me get back to who I was."

Joe was on his way to school on January 8, 2019, when Majury's Mercedes HGV truck crashed into the Vauxhall Vivaro minibus.

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Preston Crown Court heard how Majury reacted just half a second before the collision.

Majury was jailed for eight years and 10 months (Credit: SWNS)Majury was jailed for eight years and 10 months (Credit: SWNS)
Majury was jailed for eight years and 10 months (Credit: SWNS) | SWNS

Mobile phone records showed that Majury had been looking at Facebook and fantasy game Hustle Castle in the moments before the collision

It also documented views on the Sky Sports app, and a series of text messages being sent and received throughout his journey.

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He said: "Joe's mum phoned me to say that the school had been in touch to tell her that the mini bus was late and they would keep us informed.

"I didn't worry, I thought they would be stuck in traffic.

"Then a couple of hours later, I got a phone call from the person who became my family liaison officer and he said he needed to come and see me.

"I thought Joe might have been in an accident and that he had broken his leg or arm.

"He came to the door and I knew Joe was dead, he didn't need to tell me as I could see it in his face.

"It was soul-destroying, it was devastation."

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Majury also killed support worker Anne Kerr in the crash (Credit: SWNS)Majury also killed support worker Anne Kerr in the crash (Credit: SWNS)
Majury also killed support worker Anne Kerr in the crash (Credit: SWNS) | SWNS.COM

Andy says he actually had sympathy for Majury when the crash first happened, because he assumed he had 'a lapse of concentration' or something similar.

But five months later, Andy discovered Majury had been using his phone, which completely 'broke him.'

He said: "At the time, I didn't know what had happened and I thought the driver might have had a lapse of concentration.

"We've all been in the car and have been distracted easily so at the time, I hoped he was alright.

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"But I said at the time, that if he was on his phone then I would never forgive him and I would want the book thrown at him.

"To find out five months down the line to find out he was using his phone, broke me."

Andy says he was able to 'get the answers he needed' from his son's killer (Credit: SWNS)Andy says he was able to 'get the answers he needed' from his son's killer (Credit: SWNS)
Andy says he was able to 'get the answers he needed' from his son's killer (Credit: SWNS) | SWNS

Andy has also paid tribute to his son, describing him as a 'very loving and caring' but 'cheeky lad.'

The teenager was also obsessed with Pugs and wanted a farm where they would live when he was older.

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Andy, a support worker for people with special needs, said: "Joe was autistic and he was just slightly coming to terms with his disability.

"He was started to understand it a little bit and understand his outbursts.

"He was a cheeky lad and mischievous.

"Joe hated going to school but he loved it, he was started to join in classes and going to school was the making of him.

"He was very loving and caring.

"He loved Pugs - they were his life and he was going to have a Pug farm when he was older and take them for walks.

"He loved superheroes and Doctor Who as well."

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Andy also paid tribute to his son, describing him as a 'very loving and caring' but 'cheeky lad' (Credit: SWNS)Andy also paid tribute to his son, describing him as a 'very loving and caring' but 'cheeky lad' (Credit: SWNS)
Andy also paid tribute to his son, describing him as a 'very loving and caring' but 'cheeky lad' (Credit: SWNS) | SWNS.COM

Majury will be released from jail in July this year, which Andy disagrees with.

He called tougher punishments for drivers who use their phone at the wheel, which has been a criminal offence for more than 20 years.

Andy, of Bury, Greater Manchester, said: "I know I've met him and we've spoken to each other, but he shouldn't be coming out now.

"But that's not his fault, he should get longer.

"People who are caught on their phone while driving should be banned for life and should never be behind a wheel again.

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A Department for Transport spokesperson said the government had raised the jail term for killer drivers from 14 years to life.

They said: “Our deepest sympathies go to the family and friends of Joe Cairns and Anne Kerr.

"We have strict laws in place against using hand-held phones while driving and we’re clear on the penalties for those who break them.

"This Government has also raised the jail term for killer drivers from 14 years to life.

"Meanwhile, we continue to prevent future crimes and educate those most likely to offend with our effective THINK! campaign."