Twice-disqualified crash driver whose passenger had spine fractured is spared jail

A TWICE-DISQUALIFIED 25-year-old who crashed at ‘excessive speed’ leaving a teenage passenger with a fractured spine has avoided being jailed ‘by a whisker’.

Picture: ROB CURRIE. (30376165)
Picture: ROB CURRIE. (30376165)

Adam Hawkins, who was a provisional licence holder at the time of the offence, appeared in the Magistrate’s Court after admitting causing serious injury by careless driving. The hearing followed an incident on Mont du Coin (La Haule Hill) during the evening of 24 March last year.

The defendant had been driving his Honda Civic around the Island ‘with no particular aim’ when, according to one of his four passengers, the road suddenly dipped and the car skidded and slid across the road into a granite wall.

A passenger in the middle rear seat got out but realised she was unable to stand. Doctors later determined she had fractured a part of her lower spine.

According to her witness statement, she was in a back brace for eight weeks and it was expected to take between 12 and 18 months to fully recover from her injuries from that point.

She added that she had also not fully emotionally recovered from the accident and still felt anxious about getting in cars unless her father was present.

Legal adviser Jordan Gollop, prosecuting, said Hawkins had been travelling at ‘excessive speed’ and calculations showed he had been driving at a minimum of 47mph in the 30mph zone.

He added that Hawkins had sought to blame the road conditions as well as the lack of an anti-lock braking system in his vehicle. But Mr Gollop said the defendant should have borne this in mind when choosing to drive over the speed limit.

According to a second charge relating to a separate crash in St Martin involving a car registered to Hawkins, the defendant failed to provide information to police despite being served with an Article 86 notice ordering him to do so. It was his second such offence.

Advocate Francesca Pinel, defending, said her client had not realised he was excessively speeding and thought he was travelling at only 35mph. She also said he was driving according to the terms of his provisional licence – with the front-seat passenger meeting the criteria of a supervising driver.

She added that Hawkins had not been expecting the road to dip and he slammed his brakes on when it did.

Advocate Pinel also appealed to the court to spare her client prison and instead impose community service, as he was a care-giver to his terminally ill mother. Hawkins expressed remorse towards the injured passenger.

In sentencing, Relief Magistrate Michael O’Connell said: ‘When you have passengers you are fully responsible for their safety but you did not discharge that responsibility. It is a matter of good fortune that there were not others injured.

‘You have a record of previous convictions sprinkled with driving offences and I am entitled to send you to prison for this offence. The starting-point for this offence is three months in prison but that is for a first-time offender with a guilty plea. You are not a first-time offender and therefore I will increase the starting-point.’

Mr O’Connell said, after hearing his mitigation, he was able to spare him jail – particularly because of how he cared for his terminally ill mother. He instead ordered him to complete six months’ probation and 110 hours of community service as an alternative to five months in prison.

He added: ‘You have come within a whisker of going to prison today. Your offending has to stop. You have got a lot of good qualities but you let yourself down. You will end up in prison if you continue to offend.’

Hawkins was also again disqualified from driving for 12 months.

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