Sherburn man left with life-changing injuries as driver jailed for horror crash

A man fell asleep at the wheel and ploughed into the living room of a house in Malton, leaving hisfriend with horrific injuries which almost killed him.
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Jacob Cummins, 20, who had been drinking before the horror crash, was jailed for eight months at York Crown Court on Thursday, August 25, after he admitted causing serious injury by dangerous driving.

The court heard that the crash, which caused a “6ft-by-6ft” hole in the wall at the side of the house in Thornton Lane, High Marishes, had caused life-changing injuries to 20-year-old Sherburn man Connor Campbell-Miles, who nearly died in hospital and had to undergo numerous operations, including one to remove part of his bowel.

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Prosecutor Andrew Finlay said that Connor, who was in the rear passenger seat of Cummins’s Ford Fiesta, was asleep in the moments before the crash but was woken by the force of the collision.

Jacob James Cummins.Jacob James Cummins.
Jacob James Cummins.

“He was slammed forwards and then backwards,” added Mr Finlay.

A house beam went straight through the windscreen and “impaled” the front passenger seat, which was empty, after the car smashed through a fence and straight into the side of the house, which was “extensively damaged” but the residents inside were unhurt.

Mr Finlay said that Cummins, of Main Street, Sledmere, had been awake for 20 hours since getting up for work at 6am the previous morning until the crash in the early hours of September 16 last year.

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He finished work at 8pm on September 15 and then picked up Connor and another friend to go for a night out in York.

“The three of them spent the night in York…where they met some female friends,” added Mr Finlay.

“They said (Cummins) drank some alcohol during the night - two bottles of VK (alcopop) and one or two pints of beer.

"The defendant and his two friends stayed in York until about 2am.”

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Despite pleas from one of his female friends not to drive because he had been drinking, Cummins, refused her offer of a lift and decided to drive his friends home.

He dropped the first of his mates off at home and was then driving Connor home when he fell asleep at the wheel “and crashed into the side of a house”, said Mr Finlay.

“(Connor) managed to get out of the vehicle but he described being in agony,” he added.

Police were called to the scene and were so concerned about the damage to the house that they called in a structural engineer to assess the safety of the building.

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“Connor suffered serious injuries and was taken to (York District) Hospital,” said Mr Finlay.

His bowels were severely damaged, having been punctured by his ribs.

His condition was critical and surgeons feared he wouldn’t survive after being put into an induced coma.

He was transferred to intensive care where he remained for days before finally being discharged on September 24 but was rushed to hospital again about two days later after developing an infection.

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In a moving statement, Connor said his parents had “come to my (hospital) bedside to say goodbye” because his prospects were so bleak.

“This was a terrifying time for my family and girlfriend because I thought I was going to die,” he added.

“My mental state was very poor and I just felt like giving up.”

He said he lost more than four stone in weight and needed psychological therapy due to mental trauma.

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“At 20 (years of age), you don’t expect to have to learn to walk again and stand up straight (due to a drain) pulling on my side,” he said.

He had been left with scars, suffered hair loss and became “virtually bed-bound.”

He had suffered “unbearable agony” by daily removal of his dressings from an open wound, as well as insomnia, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.

He was now unable to drive and had to give up his job with a local fencing company because of his injuries and was now practically “unemployable” because employers were reluctant to take him on due to his physical condition.

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He now faced further surgery to “relieve the pain I suffer” and said he felt like “my life will never be the same again”.

One of the young women who were out in York with the three men said Cummins was drinking orange VK and was “slightly swaying”.

She said she offered to take the three men home in her car and even bring Cummins back to York the following morning to collect his vehicle, but he insisted on driving.

David Camidge, defending, said although a breath test showed that Cummins had alcohol in his system, he was under the drink-drive limit and the main reason for the crash was his lack of sleep which left him very tired.

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He said Cummins was “ordinarily a thoroughly decent, upstanding, hard-working young man”.

He added, however, that “everybody was very lucky to get out of that car”.

Judge Sean Morris told Cummins: “You are fortunate indeed that your actions that night did not result in…death.

"You drove into the side of a house and changed a young man’s life.

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“The impact on him and his family has been nothing short of devastating (and he suffered) life-changing injuries.”

Mr Morris said he considered suspending the inevitable jail sentence but the offence was too serious and added: “You do not go out until the early hours of the morning and then drive when you have been awake 20 hours and you have taken on board some alcohol”.

He said jail was the only option “so that people know what the consequences are”.

Cummins will serve half of the eight-month sentence behind bars before being released on prison licence.

He received a two-year driving ban.