Police have issued CCTV footage of the moment a Derbyshire grandfather crashed into a vape shop. The high-speed crash in Borrowash left his former friend with a catalogue of horrific injuries.
Stewart James, 47, from Spondon, has been jailed for 20 months after admitting causing serious injury by dangerous driving at Derby Crown Court. He was also banned from driving for three years and ten months, ordered to take an extended test once his ban ends and given eight points on his licence.
It was around 11pm on Wednesday, September 23, 2020, when James, along with Alexander Locke as his passenger in the Mazda car, were travelling along Nottingham Road in Borrowash. Appearing on behalf of the prosecution, Ms Julia King told the court: “The defendant was travelling at high speed and certainly well in excess of the 30 miles per hour speed limit.
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“One of the witnesses, Steven Birch, was walking his dog at the time, heading in the direction of the Wicked Vape Shop. He described the sound of the tyres squealing as the car tried to negotiate a slight bend in the road. On hearing the noise, Mr Birch turned and looked over his shoulder, he saw a car struggling to negotiate the bend plainly given the speed the defendant was driving it.”
James lost control of the vehicle as the car approached a pedestrian crossing and crashed into the kerb. The court heard that the car took off into the air before slamming into the side of the Wicked Vape Shop.
“Mr Birch immediately went to the aid of [James] and Mr Locke. [James] was falling in and out of consciousness and Mr Locke was able to crawl out of the vehicle and he lay on the ground falling in and out of consciousness.” Ms King added that Mr Locke told members of the public who came to help that he and James had been out drinking at local pubs.
As a result of the crash, Mr Locke, the passenger in the car was left with a long list of injuries including “The side of his chest had been compressed, his abdomen distended and he had a right ankle fracture. At hospital, he was noted to have seat belt bruising to his abdomen, a right-sided pneumothorax, left arm fracture, lacerations to his knee and a fracture to his spine.” Ms King continued.
As a result of his injuries, Mr Locke had part of his bowel removed and had a stoma bag fitted. He remained in hospital for between five and six weeks and spent some time in the intensive care unit. The court was also told that as of February 2021, the last time an update was taken, Mr Locke was still struggling to walk and had lost the feeling in his right thumb, index finger or middle finger.
Ms King added that police investigations showed that James and Mr Locke had been at two pubs in the three hours prior to the crash with James “seen on CCTV drinking two pints in the public house before moving onto Alfies Bar where he had two more pints followed by a shot. James and Mr Locke left Alfies Bar at 22..56pm and the collision occurred less than 15 minutes after that.”
When interviewed by police, James told them that drinking four pints wouldn’t have meant that he was drunk, he didn’t remember the events of that night and knew Nottingham Road well as he used it almost daily. He also said he would never drink and drive and would’ve left his vehicle in the car park if he had drunk four pints.
Defending James, Mr Andrew Walker, told the court that the bend in the road was to blame for the collision with the kerb and the crash into the shop. “Mr James still can’t remember the events of that night, he doesn’t know why he got into his car after he’d had a drink. It’s not something he did if he was drinking, he would leave the car in the pub car park.
“The fact that the car was being driven so quickly is a question he can’t answer because the car was basically his pride and joy, he attended it and made sure it was always serviced and the like.” Mr Walker said investigations had been carried out to try and find an innocent cause of the crash, including the possibility of a flat tyre causing it, but the car had already been collected by the insurance company and disposed of.
Mr Walker appealed to the court not to send his client to prison adding that, since the incident he has changed his lifestyle including “If he was to go out to a pub or a restaurant he would not take his car at all, instead taking taxis. He used to go out quite frequently, in fact, most nights he says not anymore, perhaps once or twice a month.”
James, who works driving construction equipment installing roads on new properties and estates, lives on his own and has six grandchildren two of whom stay over at his house on a weekly basis “There are six grandchildren who would miss their grandad if he was to lose his liberty” Mr Walker added.
Those appeals not to send James to prison fell on deaf ears however as the Judge, Recorder Stuart Sprawson told James it was his “civic duty” to send him to prison rather than hand him a suspended sentence. Addressing James in the dock, Recorder Sprawson told him he was sending him to prison for 20 months, of which he’ll serve eight before being released on licence and told the dock officer to “take him down”.
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