Man jailed for seriously injuring best friend in car crash - St Albans


A motorist, who crashed his car in St Albans while driving dangerously, caused his best friend terrible life changing injuries. Billy Unite will never walk again after being left a tetraplegic following the crash in Harpenden Road in the town on 29 March last year.

He has lost the use of limbs after suffering brain and spinal injuries and has severe difficulties communicating. Behind the wheel of his Mitsubishi that night was Billy's best friend Thomas Bailey. He suffered only minor injuries that night and must now live with the guilt and remorse for his poor driving, St Albans Crown Court was told.

Twenty-seven-year-old Bailey appeared in the dock to plead guilty to a charge of causing serious injury by dangerous driving.

Davina Mootien, prosecuting, told the court how Bailey had left his home in Pinewood Close, St Albans to pick his friend up and a young woman who were out drinking that night in St Albans.

Recorder Patrick Fields, hearing the case, was told that Bailey met the pair and then drank some alcohol himself before all three set off at the end of the evening in his car.

The court then heard how, in Harpenden Road, St Albans, at a point close to where the old fire station used to be, the Mitsubishi came roaring up behind another vehicle far in excess of the 30 mph speed limit. To avoid driving into the rear of the vehicle, Bailey pulled out and overtook it and then cut back in only to hit the kerb and mount the verge before spinning out of control into the oncoming lane where the Mitsubishi then collided with a Volvo car.

Following the crash, Billy, who had been a front seat passenger, was found lying in the road. The young woman in the back of the Mitsubishi suffered minor injuries as did Bailey himself. Later, the level of alcohol in Bailey's blood was tested and he was found to be over the legal limit. The court then heard about the dreadful injuries Billy suffered that night.

Judge Warner was told he and Bailey had been "like brothers" because of the closeness of their friendship. And in a remarkable act of forgiveness, the court was told that members of Billy's family were in court to support Mr Bailey and had provided character references for him.

Billy Unite is still in a "bad way," said Will Noble defending and only has low levels of consciousness. Mr Noble said Bailey was a frequent visitor to his friend's hospital bedside, often taking the injured man's grandmother to see her grandson.

Passing sentence, Recorder Fields told Bailey: "It's been accepted on your behalf that your driving that night was of a shockingly bad standard." The judge said he accepted that perhaps Bailey hadn't planned to go out that night, but on receiving a call from Billy, had driven into St Albans to collect his friend and the young woman he was with. There he had drunk himself, said the judge, before getting back behind the wheel of his car to take the others home.

Recorder Fields said the manoeuvre to overtake the vehicle in front had been so aggressive that in doing so he had clipped the kerb and spun out of control. He said Billy had suffered "quite appaling injuries" that night and he said Bailey will have to live with the remorse he now feels for the rest of his life. The recorder said the fact that Billy's own family had shown Bailey mercy and compassion was honourable and humbling. But he said he had to pass a sentence that would protect other road users as well. He jailed Bailey for two years, banned him from driving for three years and his licence was endorsed. Bailey was told he would also have to take an extended driving test before he can get behind the wheel of a car again.

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