A DRIVER whose girlfriend was badly hurt after he ploughed into a stationary lorry after downing Stella Artois lager and snorting cocaine has been spared jail.
Johnathan Smith, 38, formerly of Waun Road, Cwmbran, now of Stroud, was told by a judge he was “extremely lucky” not to be going to prison for seriously injuring his then partner Jacqueline Walden.
Cardiff Crown Court heard how the victim has been left unemployed and struggles to follow her hobby of keeping fit as a result of the horror incident.
The defendant crashed his boss’ Ford Transit Tipper van into a parked lorry at Cwmbran’s Springvale Industrial Estate on the evening of Tuesday, September 15, 2020.
Smith was convicted of causing Miss Walden serious injury be dangerous driving following a trial.
The jury heard how the collision occurred after the defendant had just picked her up after she’d just finished an exercise class at Cwmbran Stadium.
Miss Walden had to be rescued by firefighters after being trapped in the van.
She spent three weeks in hospital after suffering a broken thigh as well as cuts to her body and forehead.
Smith has previous convictions, including one for drink driving from 2016.
Ieuan Bennett, prosecuting, said: “The victim says this has had a significant impact upon her.
“In particular it has affected her ability to engage in her hobby of attempting to keep fit “It has affected her employment – she’s now unemployed.
“She talks of difficulty in taking medication for pain relief and continues to suffer from the effects of the incident itself.”
Hilary Roberts, representing the defendant, told the court his client had referred himself to get help for substance abuse with the Gwent Drug & Alcohol Service.
He said: “The defendant has moved in his life and changed his life very much for the better.
“He has moved to Stroud, we have a letter from his partner and she is here to support him.
“That move has meant he has changed his associates with whom he was behaving illegally and taking drugs and the like.
“The defendant’s got a job and if he were sent to prison he would lose his job.
“He is on a pathway to rehabilitation – the abuse of drink and drugs is behind him.”
Recorder John Philpotts told Smith: “You were driving your employer’s van and you were under the influence of alcohol and there were some trace of drugs also in your system.
“Jacqueline Walden sustained serious injuries, including a fracture of the left femur which required major surgical intervention.”
Smith was jailed for two years, suspended for two years.
He was ordered to carry out 200 hours of unpaid work and pay £1,000 prosecution costs.
No order for compensation was made.
Smith was banned from driving for two years and told he will have to sit an extended test if he wants to regain his licence.
Before the defendant left the dock, the judge told him: “You are extremely fortunate today.
“If you fail to take the chance you have been given there will be no mercy and you will be going straight into prison.
“You are to be congratulated on the progress you have made but you must keep it up.”