A LORRY driver who ‘sarcastically clapped’ another motorist seconds before knocking down and killing a little boy on a pedestrian crossing was today cleared of causing death by dangerous driving.

Dean Phoenix admitted he made a mistake when he failed to see a red light at the crossing. His Sainsbury’s lorry was pulled too far forward for him to spot the light change.

Jaiden Mangan, three, was on the crossing with his family when Phoenix pulled away.

The lorry then collided with the tot, who suffered fatal chest and abdominal injuries.

A court heard Phoenix, 44, had been distracted at the time because he was ‘sarcastically applauding’ another motorist just as he drove off.

Dashcam from a taxi approaching the crossing caught him swearing and gesticulating towards the driver.

Phoenix admitted causing death by careless driving but denied a more serious allegation of causing death by dangerous driving. He was found not guilty following a two-day trial at Bournemouth Crown Court.

On hearing the verdict, Jaiden’s distraught parents James Mangan and Yasmin Dougan broke down in tears and left the court.

Phoenix, from Chineham, Hampshire, will return to the court tomorrow for sentence. He was remanded into custody ahead of the hearing.

Jaiden was knocked down on the crossing in Wareham on March 29 last year. He would have turned four the following day.

Jurors heard Phoenix had become frustrated after an elderly motorist illegally parked his car on the zigzag lines of the crossing, blocking the lorry’s path.

Phoenix was then caught gesticulating at another driver on the opposite side of the road after mistakenly believing he had stopped to let him through, leaving just a tight space.

In fact, the car had stopped for the red light at the crossing.

Phoenix started to drive around the illegally-parked Vauxhall Astra when he hit Jaiden.

He told jurors: “It was an accident, I made a mistake.”

Graham Booker, the Astra driver, admitted driving without due care and attention and causing a vehicle to stop within the limits of a puffin crossing. The 71-year-old was fined and disqualified.