9th Dec, 2016

‘Outrageously dangerous’ district driver jailed

Stratford Editorial 7th Apr, 2016 Updated: 28th Oct, 2016

A MAN whose ‘outrageously dangerous’ driving caused a head-on-crash left two people with life-changing injuries.

And at Coventry Crown Court, Tristan Chapman was jailed for three years and disqualified for five years for his ‘truly appalling piece of driving.’

The 29 year-old of Coventry Road, Southam, had pleaded guilty during an earlier hearing at Warwick Crown Court to two charges of causing serious injury by dangerous driving.

Prosecutor Jane Sarginson said on November 1, 2014, Chloe Staples finished work in Leamington at 7pm and was driving back to her home in Napton via Southam.

She was keeping to the 60mph speed limit on the A425 from Southam as she approached the blind bridge over the Oxford Canal, where there are double white lines on the approach in both directions, in her Citroen C1.

“The last thing she remembered was seeing lights coming straight for her – and then it was a blank. She had no time to react.”

But motorists behind a lorry approaching the bridge from the opposite direction later spoke of a black Lexus coming ‘from nowhere’ and going past them on the wrong side of the double white lines at about 60mph with its engine revving.

The driver at the front of the small line of traffic said he could see the top of the approaching Citroen, and expected the Lexus to drop back in between him and the lorry.

But Chapman, who had three passengers in the Lexus, made no attempt to do so and kept going.

The Lexus clipped the lorry as Chapman realised, too late, that he was heading straight for the Citroen – and the two cars collided head-on.

The fire brigade had to cut the roof off 20 year-old Miss Staples’ car to free her before she was rushed to hospital where she had to undergo six hours of surgery to have a metal rod implanted to repair her smashed right femur.

Miss Staples, whose upper arm and bones in her foot were also fractured, was in hospital for seven days.

She suffered physical and psychological scarring, and has been diagnosed as suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

Meanwhile one of Chapman’s rear-seat passengers, Scott Mackay was even more seriously hurt, with a depressed fracture to his skull, as well as broken ribs and fractures to facial bones.

He was in a coma, with a ‘traumatic’ brain injury, and following surgery to elevate his depressed skull fracture he was in the critical care unit for five days and remained in hospital for a further 12 days.

As a result of his injuries, the 25 year-old, who had been due to start work as a steel erector, has extensive facial and scalp scars, has lost his sense of smell, his short-term memory is affected, and he relies on his family for support.

Miss Sarginson said Chapman, who had a caution for assault and was subject to a community order for battery at the time, was familiar with the road, commenting: “It was a deliberate decision by him to do something which was obviously dangerous.”

Ian Speed, defending, said: “All I can say on his behalf is that he fully apologises for his outrageous actions on that day. He accepts it causes ongoing injury and trauma to the victims.”

But Judge Philip Gregory was not impressed.

He retorted: “I find his attitude when he was interviewed distasteful. He said ‘Yeah, well turn the tape off and I’ll speak to you. All you’re going to get is no comment.’

Jailing Chapman, the judge told him: “The documents show you are hard-working and enterprising, doing your best to develop a successful business.

“However, behind the wheel of a car you are capable of driving in the most outrageously dangerous manner, without any regard to the well-being of other road-users.

“This was a truly appalling piece of driving which gave rise to serious injuries to two innocent people because of your selfish disregard to the safety of others on the highway.”