Page last updated at 21:26 GMT, Monday, 9 February 2009

Fatal crash driver 'used laptop'

Paulo Jorge Nogueira da Silva
Mr Jorge Nogueira da Silva denies using a laptop while driving

A family of six was killed by a lorry driver who may have been using a laptop computer for directions as he drove along a motorway, a court heard.

David and Michelle Statham, of Llandudno, north Wales, and their four children died in the crash on the M6 in Sandbach, Cheshire, in October.

Portuguese driver Paulo Jorge Nogueira da Silva, 46, denies six counts of causing death by dangerous driving.

Mr da Silva also denies causing six deaths by careless driving.

Earlier accident

The court heard the Statham family was killed instantly when the 40-tonne lorry hit their Toyota Previa people carrier at about 31mph.

David Statham and his wife Michelle (top left) with their four children Jay (top right), Mason (bottom left); Reece, 13, and Ellouise (bottom righ
The Statham family were returning from visiting relatives in Birmingham

The Toyota was at the back of a queue caused by an earlier accident on the motorway.

Andrew Thomas QC, prosecuting, said it was alleged the lorry driver was using a global positioning system on his laptop computer to work out an alternative route, because the first crash had shut the motorway.

He said Mr da Silva had denied using the laptop while driving, but police found it was by the driver's seat with the screen turned to face the driver.

Mr Thomas told the jury: "You will have to consider whether the defendant has told the truth."

He said Mr da Silva had not seen the queuing traffic ahead because he was not paying attention.

"If he had looked he would have seen the queuing traffic for himself because the road was straight for over a mile before the queue started.

"He had plenty of time to see the queue because the trucks in front had been there for between one and two minutes before he arrived.

For over a mile before the point of impact the defendant was not paying proper attention to the road - it was gross inattention
Andrew Thomas QC

"For over a mile before the point of impact the defendant was not paying proper attention to the road. It was gross inattention," he said.

Mr and Mrs Statham, their sons Reece, 13, Jay, nine, and Mason, 20 months, and 10-week-old daughter Ellouise - were travelling back to Llandudno from Birmingham, where they had been visiting Mrs Statham's parents.

Mrs Statham, a 33-year-old financial adviser, was driving.

The family had moved to Llandudno four years ago from Sutton Coldfield, near Birmingham.

Mr da Silva was transporting fruit juice from Murcia, Spain, - where he lives - to a Morrisons distribution centre in Northwich, Cheshire.

The trial continues.

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