A DRIVER has been jailed for six years for causing a 'catastrophic' crash which left two people in intensive care.
Newport crown court sitting heard Nathan Jenkins, 27, of Bronwydd, Oakdale, did not have a full driving licence, was unsupervised, uninsured, and was driving his ex-girlfriend's car at over 70 miles per hour in a 30mph zone at the time of the crash.
The court heard that at around 8pm on May 14 last year, married couple Sian and Alan Williams were driving home on the B4251 in their Rover car towards Oakdale from Pengam when the collision occurred.
Eye witness PC Jenny Barret, an off duty police officer travelling in the opposite direction, saw the defendant driving 'really fast' at about 60mph on the 30mph road.
In her statement, she said she saw the back of the car starting to skid out towards the middle of the road. There had been heavy rain at the time of the incident.
Mr Williams estimated he was driving at around 27mph, in third gear, when he came around a bend and saw the defendant's car coming towards him in the opposite direction.
In his statement Mr Williams said he saw the car drifted into his lane.
There was a head on collision, which was described by eyewitnesses as 'horrific'.
The police officer who had earlier seen the defendant driving arrived at the scene and found both Mr And Mrs Williams trapped in their vehicle.
It took the fire service over an hour to get them both out, where they were both taken to the intensive care unit at the Royal Gwent Hospital.
A crash investigator found the head on collision was so catastrophic the Williams' car was crushed 6.3m backwards at the point of impact.
CCTV footage from a nearby house captured Jenkins as he drove past, and through that police were able to determine that just before the crash he was driving at 73 mph. Experts found the 'closing speed' was 90 to 100mph.
Mrs Williams suffered a broken right arm, a punctured lung, several broken ribs, a ruptured breast, nerve damage, internal bleeding and other serious injuries. She may never be able to use her right arm properly.
Mr Williams suffered a broken right arm, an open fracture below the knee, his ankle required surgery and pins, part of his calf muscle was removed and he had a skin graft. He also had two fractured ribs, a fracture to his hip, and was confined to a wheelchair from some time. He still struggles to walk and may have to have his leg amputated.
Jenkins had previously pleaded guilty to two counts of causing serious injury by dangerous driving.
The court heard six weeks before the crash and in similar circumstances Jenkins had been illegally driving his ex-girlfriend's car when he crashed it, before running away from the scene. He was charged with driving without due care and attention and failing to stop after an accident – although he was not charged until after the incident with Mrs and Mrs Williams.
The court heard when Jenkins was interviewed by police he confirmed he was uninsured and unlicensed, but that he didn’t think he was driving fast.
In her harrowing victim impact statement, which she read aloud to the court, Mrs Williams said the event had affected them both irreversibly – from being two healthy people who worked full time, both have restricted movement and struggle to perform everyday tasks.
She said both struggle to sleep and have terrifying nightmares about the crash, and Mr Williams suffers from traumatic flashbacks.
She said the excruciating pain they suffered while in the car and in hospital after was ‘ unbelievable agony’ and they were both ‘terrified’ the other had died.
She said they feel they are now ‘burdens’ on their three children and five grandchildren and added her husband, a former boxer and body builder who worked in construction is finding it particularly hard to adjust to a life where he cannot walk without the help of two crutches.
In mitigation, barrister Andrew Taylor said his client was remorseful and never wanted to drive again, that Jenkins pleaded guilty in December, the car was not stolen and his client was not on drugs a the time of the incident.
He said: “He was clearly driving too quickly. But it is not a case where there was a flagrant abuse.
“There are no winners in this case, only losers. The biggest losers are the Williams family, but that does not mean it has not had a big impact on Mr Jenkins and his family.”
Judge Stephen Hopkins said: “The Williams were trapped in their car for some time in agony and I am sure that they thought they were going to die.
“The way you behaved suggests you were showing off in the sense you were attempting to gain a thrill from driving that way. You must have been aware of the danger of that. But weeks earlier you caused an accident in the same way, and ran from the scene.
“I have listened with care and anguish from the statement given with such dignity by Mrs Williams.
“The emotional consequences have been very great indeed. The affect on the whole family’s lives has been catastrophic.
“All of this is because of what you did that day.”
He was given six years in prison and disqualified from driving for 10 years. Before he can drive again he will have to take an extended driving test and his licence will be endorsed with points for driving uninsured.
Speaking after the sentencing, Mrs Williams told the Argus that she was pleased with the sentence, and she hopes her family can now gain some closure.