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Driver ran over schoolgirl while arguing with girlfriend on the phone

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The judge said Benjamin Simmonds was ‘clearly distracted’ by the row (Picture: SWNS)

A driver who left a schoolgirl seriously injured after running her over at a pedestrian crossing while arguing on the phone with his girlfriend has been jailed.

Benjamin Simmonds, 29, ran through a red light and ploughed into the 11-year-old as she crossed the road after getting off her school bus to walk home.

The young girl suffered an open fracture to her arm and was left concussed after being thrown up on the bonnet of the VW Golf and hitting her head on the roof.

The judge at Warwick Crown Court said the dad-of-three was ‘clearly distracted’ by the row at the time of the collision in Bidford-on-Avon on the afternoon of March 28, 2019.

Simmonds initially tried to blame her for jumping out in front of him, saying she had been ‘hot-footing it across the road’.

He later pleaded guilty to causing serious injury by dangerous driving and was sentenced to 16 months in prison.

Judge Anthony Potter told him: ‘The way you drove caused a substantial danger to other road-users and pedestrians at a time when schools would have been releasing its pupils.

‘You had set off clearly distracted by an argument with your partner and it is plain you were constantly using your phone during the journey.

‘You did not notice the pedestrian crossing with an 11-year-old girl waiting to cross, you did not notice that the light went red, and you did not notice you were driving too quickly for the road conditions.

‘It meant that when she saw the green lights and stepped out to cross the road, you hit her, and she was swept up onto the bonnet and her head impacted with the roof.

‘You had the courage and decency to pull up at the side of the road, but it is a shame that at that time you sought to suggest she had jumped out in front of you.’

Simmonds causing serious injury by dangerous driving and was sentenced to 16 months (Picture: SWNS)

Prosecutor Grace Ong told the court Simmonds had argued with his partner after getting home from work.

They then exchanged a series of heated texts and calls as he made his way to a friend’s place.

Meanwhile, the schoolgirl had caught the bus back to Bidford, where she got off in the High Street shortly before 4pm.

Walking the rest of the way, she paused at a crossing on Salford Road, taking her headphones off to make sure she could hear the beeping that accompanies the green man.

When the signal flashed she stepped into the road and was hit by Simmonds’ car.

The court heard Simmonds initially tried to blame the girl for jumping out in front of him (Picture: SWNS)

Two women in another vehicle which had stopped at the lights said they saw Simmonds clutching a phone to his ear at the time.

The court heard he had received a speeding ticket nine weeks earlier.

Defending, Philip Vollans said Simmonds feels ‘an immense amount of shame and remorse’ and has not got behind the wheel since.

He added: ‘The reason he was on the phone to his partner is because she had recently found out he had become a regular user of heroin.

‘She was rightly concerned, and there were a number of communications over the phone which were heated.’

Simmonds was also banned from driving for 32 months.

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