GRIEF-stricken parents who lost their 'beautiful' daughter and unborn son after a hook-handed lorry driver ploughed into their car bravely fought back tears as they faced the killer.

Devastated Collette and Haydn Wiggin stood metres away from defendant Thomas Hunter as they recalled how a horrific crash on the A34 last August destroyed their 'perfect family'.

Hunter was yesterday jailed for six years after his dangerous driving claimed the life of three-year-old Isla Wiggin, who was thrown across the family's Vauxhall Mokka while strapped in her child seat.

Mrs Wiggin, who was 20-weeks' pregnant at the time, was forced to give birth to stillborn baby Harry just four days after making the 'agonising' decision to switch off Isla's life support.

Taking the stand at Oxford Crown Court, Mrs Wiggin stared into the dock, locking eyes with Hunter as she shared cherished memories of her 'clever and cheeky' daughter.

The chartered accountant said: "[Isla] was not only bright, but one of the most loving and caring people I have ever known. Even at the age of three, she was my best friend. We did everything together.

"I knew that we were going to be extremely close as she grew up. I couldn't wait to help her through every step of her life - school, university, finding a career and even helping with her own children.

"But I will not be able to experience any of this with her, it has all been so cruelly taken away."

Hunter was locked up after admitting causing death by dangerous driving and causing serious injury by dangerous driving.

The 59-year-old wiped tears from his eyes as he staggered into the dock, moments before the court heard how he ploughed through cars in a traffic jam, 'scattering them like skittles'.

Sentencing, Judge Ian Pringle QC said the defendant failed to notice the traffic ahead of him for nearly 10 seconds, condemning him for being 'grossly distracted by something'.

Mrs Wiggin set off from her Hampshire home with Isla to visit her parents in Carlisle, Cumbria, while RAF pilot Mr Wiggin was stationed on the Falkland Islands.

She was travelling northbound on the A34 when she spotted queuing traffic as she approached the Hinksey Hill junction at about 7.30pm on August 25, prosecutor Michael Roques said.

The mother joined the back of the traffic jam on the inside lane, while other drivers put on their hazard lights as they began to slow down or stop.

Mr Roques said: "All indications are that drivers had a clear sight of the delay on their approach and were able to stop without harsh breaking."

Father-of-three Hunter was also driving his red Volvo articulated lorry northbound on the A34 at about 54mph as he approached the stationary traffic.

But he failed to slow down until about one second before he smashed into the back of the Vauxhall Mokka, travelling at 43mph when he collided with the car.

The court heard the force of the collision caused Isla's child seat to career forward from the back of the car, while still attached to the rear seat.

Hunter's lorry then mounted the nearside embankment, crashing through the metal barrier and snapping trees before coming to a halt 236m away from the smash.

Emergency services dashed to the scene, where Hunter was arrested and was heard muttering: "Me? You think I caused all this, no way."

Mrs Wiggin and Isla were rushed to the John Radcliffe Hospital, where medics discovered they both had broken their necks.

The mother was unable to see her daughter after the youngster under went emergency surgery, as she was too fragile to get into a wheelchair and travel to another ward.

But she was soon told by medics they were worried about swelling on Isla's brain after she had stopped breathing following the smash.

Mrs Wiggin discovered the following day she had lost her unborn baby, breaking the news to her husband before he got on an 18-hour flight back to the UK.

Speaking of his trauma, Mr Wiggin said: "I think I cried for at least 15 hours of those 18 hours."

The Chinnock helicopter pilot went on to describe the 'heartbreaking' moment he was reunited with his daughter after the crash, which involved a further five vehicles.

He said: "Isla was lying in intensive care with a full neck brace contraption around her and tubes and wires going in and out and everywhere. She looked absolutely helpless and completely innocent.

"The doctor had never seen anyone with injuries this bad survive. It quickly became apparent that I wasn't there to wait for the recovery, I was there to wait until Isla died.

"Not only that, but Collette had not been told how serious Isla's injuries were because she was in such a fragile state herself. It was now up to me to go to my wife and explain that our daughter was going to die."

Both parents cradled their daughter in the hospital before 'saying goodnight for the last time' and switching her life support off on August 27.

Defence barrister Alexander Stein said Hunter, who previously served in The Black Watch Regiment, was 'incredibly sorry' for the pain he had caused.

The defendant, who lost his hand in an industrial accident but was approved by the DVLA to drive, has been left 'haunted' by the horrendous smash, the barrister said.

Mr Stein added: "The basic inference to make is that he lost concentration. Obviously, he lost concentration for far too long a period of time."

Hunter, of Mansfield Road, Mansfield, Nottinghamshire, was also banned from driving for five years and four months and must pay a victim surcharge.