HARROWING footage of a horrific crash that claimed three lives has been issued by police as a stark warning to people who use their mobile phone while driving.

Lorry driver Ion Nicu Onut was surfing sex sites on his mobile while driving a Scania carrying fertiliser when he collided with stationary traffic on the A1(M) at 58mph.

Dashcam footage collected as part of the official investigation shows the lorry driving up the central reservation with a burning vehicle stuck beneath the cab.

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Durham Crown Court heard this morning how Onut had been distracted because he was 'engrossed' in using adult dating sites on his mobile phone.

The crash, near Bowburn, in July, claimed the lives of David Daglish, 57, and Elaine Sullivan, 59, from Seaham, and Paul Mullen, 51, of Washington.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus:

David Daglish, and Elaine Sullivan, from Seaham, with Paul Mullen, right

Sergeant Catherine Iley, from Durham Constabulary, said: “This was a truly harrowing incident for everyone involved and our thoughts remain with the family and friends of Elaine, David, and Paul.

"They have shown great dignity throughout the course of this investigation and have assisted wherever they can, all while trying to come to terms with the loss of their loved ones in such devastating circumstances.

“It was incredibly distressing and upsetting for those who witnessed the collision, and for the emergency responders, including police officers, firefighters and paramedics, who attended the scene. The horror of what they witnessed that day will no doubt remain with them for many years to come.

“Our sincere thanks must go to everyone who helped at the scene. This also includes members of the public, Highways England, and soldiers from the 4th Regiment Royal Artillery based in North Yorkshire who assisted at the scene after being caught up in the resulting traffic jam.

“Mr Onut has admitted his guilt and pleaded guilty at the first available opportunity and while he has shown remorse for his actions, no amount of remorse will bring Elaine, David, and Paul back."

Sgt Iley said: "This case serves as a dreadful warning of what can happen when drivers use a mobile phone or device whilst behind the wheel of a vehicle – irrespective of the purpose of that use, they are a distraction and as shown in this case, that distraction could have devastating and wide reaching consequences.

“Simply put, don’t use one.”