14/08/2014 12:58 BST | Updated 20/05/2015 06:12 BST

Mum Comes Face-To-Face With Texting Driver Who Killed Her Daughter


The devastated mum of a schoolgirl crushed to death by a lorry driver who was texting his girlfriend at the wheel came face-to-face with him at her daughter's inquest.

Hope Fennell, 13, was cycling across a pedestrian crossing in Birmingham when Darren Foster's lorry hit her.

He then hastily deleted texts he had sent as the schoolgirl lay dying beneath the 18-tonne vehicle's wheels.

Foster, 39, from Derby, was jailed for six months for dangerous driving and perverting the course of justice last year, but is now free.

And this week, Hope's mum, Nazan Fennell, 47, came face-to-face with him, before storming out of the inquest shortly before the coroner ruled that the driver was not to blame.

Foster told the hearing in Birmingham: "I checked each one of my mirrors before pulling away on green. I just didn't see her.

"I heard a noise and then people were waving their arms at me.

"That is the first time I realised I had run over her."

The inquest was told CCTV footage from 7 November 2011 showed Foster pulled away on a green light before Hope cycled in front of his vehicle.

PC Mark Weaver, collision investigator, said the driver would not have seen the bike as there was a blind spot on the lorry not covered by mirrors.

Louise Hunt, senior coroner for Birmingham and Solihull, told Mrs Fennell: "The driver wasn't able to see Hope due to the blind spot on the lorry.

"I am very sorry for your loss and offer my sincere condolences. I realise nothing can bring her back and ease the pain of your loss."

Mrs Fennell left the hearing shortly before the coroner recorded a verdict of death caused by a road traffic collision.

Speaking outside, she said: "Hope's death has absolutely destroyed both myself and my family.

"I have lost my job looking after vulnerable people which, ironically, I am now one of. I simply can't function.

"My two children, Leo and Paris, haven't been able to cope with the loss of their little sister, and both failed to complete their secondary education.

"Our family was ripped apart when Hope died. Although the youngest, she was the life and soul of our family - the one with the jokes, the caring one, the playful one."

Foster was jailed last September after Birmingham Crown Court heard how he crushed Hope as she headed home from school and got out of the cab to see her beneath his lorry's wheels.

But instead of rushing to her aid, Foster climbed back into his cab and deleted texts to hide the evidence that he had been distracted at the wheel, the court heard.