Southam man jailed for '˜outrageously dangerous' driving which led to life-changing injuries for two people

A man whose '˜outrageously dangerous' driving caused a head-on-crash at a combined speed of more than 100mph, left two people with serious life-changing injuries.

Thursday, 7th April 2016, 8:51 am
Updated Thursday, 7th April 2016, 8:56 am
Court news.

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

Chapman, 29, 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 that on the 1st of November 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 red 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 red car, 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 – and one of the other drivers said she said to herself: “Someone wants to die tonight.”

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.

Judge Philip Gregory commented: “She has some unsightly scars, particularly to her thigh, which deters her from wearing short skirts or bikinis.”

Miss Sarginson said Miss Staples also has ‘psychological scars,’ and has been diagnosed as suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and feels she is ‘trapped in a nightmare which will not go away.’

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, Mr Mackay, now 25, 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: “It has always been fully accepted that the overtaking of the lorry was on a white line and totally and utterly dangerous.

“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 Gregory 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.’

“He was told the driver of the red car had been in hospital for seven days, and was asked ‘Why were you on the wrong side of the road?’, ‘No comment.’ An expression of sympathy would have done no harm.”

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.

“Approaching a blind rise over a canal bridge you, out of frustration with one of your passengers, chose to overtake a line of three cars and a lorry at considerable speed, heedless of any accident you might cause.

“As a consequence, a head-on collision occurred.

“The combined speed of that collision must have been 100mph.

“It is a miracle that, mercifully, no-one was killed.

“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.”