Driver in custody after admitting death crash on East Lancs Road

Florin Solomon entered guilty pleas when he appeared at Bolton Crown Court
Florin Solomon entered guilty pleas when he appeared at Bolton Crown Court

A lorry driver has admitted killing a “military hero” and seriously injuring his wife by driving dangerously on a busy dual-carriageway.

Florin Solomon, 28, was arrested by police after a serious crash on the A580 East Lancashire Road in Leigh.

He has now pleaded guilty to the two offences at Bolton Crown Court and will be sentenced on April 9.

Solomon was driving a Scania HGV which collided with a Toyota Corolla at the junction of the A580 and Atherleigh Way at 10.20am on January 21.

The car was being driven by Mark Byrne MBE, who was hailed at an earlier court hearing as a “military hero” with 25 years’ service, and his wife Julie was with him.

When Romanian national Solomon appeared at Wigan and Leigh Magistrates’ Court in January, prosecutor Steve Woodman said Mrs Byrne had to stay in the car for nearly an hour after the crash while firefighters worked to free her husband.

She suffered a fractured sternum and was taken to hospital in a serious condition.

Magistrates were shown dash-cam footage from a car travelling behind Solomon’s lorry and were told “absolutely horrific” video footage had also been obtained from his vehicle.

Mr Woodman said the Toyota Corolla was in a queue of traffic waiting to turn right from Atherleigh Way onto the A580.

It was the second car to turn once the traffic lights changed to green.

But his car was hit by Solomon’s lorry and crashed into the central reservation.

Mr Woodman said: “As he approaches the junction, the road traffic signals have been displaying red against him for at least 10 seconds and when he goes through them, he has not reacted to the lights being on red or significantly slowed down or anything along those lines.”

When police arrived, Solomon said: “I’m going to jail. I went through on amber.”

Magistrates were told that Solomon was arrested and in a prepared statement given to police, he said he could not stop at the lights because of the weight of his load.

He gave no comment to questions put to him.

Mr Woodman said Solomon’s mobile phone was seized by police and analysis showed he was using an app for Amazon at the time of the crash.

He said: “The crown’s case is that he has clearly been on his mobile phone, not paying full attention.

“The lights were nowhere near amber.”

Rebecca Caulfield, defending, described the crash as a “harrowing collision” and said Solomon had been in a “harrowing state of shock” afterwards.

She said Solomon, who was a temporary agency worker, had never been before the courts before and had a clean driving licence.

He left Romania at the age of 15, spending 11 years in Italy before moving to the UK.

Solomon, of Lansdowne Walk, Worcester, has a girlfriend of eight years and suffers from depression, as well as having a long-term condition which affects his back.

He will be remanded in custody until he is sentenced in April.