Former jump jockey from Swinton jailed after causing head-on crash while texting

A former top jump jockey from Swinton, near Malton, has been jailed after he sped around a blind bend while texting, resulting in a head-on crash in which two elderly motorists suffered life-changing injuries.

By The Newsroom
Friday, 21st December 2018, 9:43 am
Updated Friday, 21st December 2018, 9:48 am
Fearghal Davis, 32, has been jailed after causing a crash which left two elderly people with life-changing injuries.
Fearghal Davis, 32, has been jailed after causing a crash which left two elderly people with life-changing injuries.

Fearghal Davis, 32, had been drinking before he got behind the wheel of his Ford Focus and was looking down at his mobile phone when the horrific crash occurred on a single-track road in Gate Helmsley.

Davis - who had an illustrious career on the jump circuit and rode for famous race-horse owners including J P McManus and Sir Robert Ogden - was on the wrong side of the road when his car and a Citroen Picasso collided on August 10 last year, York Crown Court heard.

William Savory, 77, and his 76-year-old wife Rosemary, had slowed down at the bend as a precaution but Davis’s car came straight at them, said prosecutor James Gelsthorpe.

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Mr Savory, who said Davis was “travelling so fast”, tried to swerve out of the way but it was “too late” and the cars collided.

The couple’s Citroen was “flung” onto an embankment and Mrs Savory was “crumpled up” inside the car. They were trapped in the vehicle and emergency services were called, but when they arrived Davis had run off, texting and calling friends asking to be whisked away from the scene.

Mrs Savory had to be cut free from the vehicle by firefighters and the couple were then rushed to Hull Royal Infirmary.

Mr Savory suffered five broken ribs and extensive bruising. He was eventually discharged but later readmitted due to concerns about his “memory and cognitive functions”. It’s believed that a pre-existing brain haematoma had been exacerbated by the crash and Mr Savory had to undergo surgery to have the blood clot drained. He now suffered headaches and was receiving treatment for vascular dementia.

Mrs Savory suffered a broken leg and neck and needed hip-replacement surgery. She also suffered nerve damage to her eye which led to blurred vision.

Mr Gelsthorpe said there was no proof that Davis was over the drink-drive limit, but the defendant later admitted he had had a few drinks before the crash at about 3pm.

A man who was out running said he saw Davis - whose hands and face were soaked in blood - “being picked up in a navy-blue car and being driven away” from the scene.

The Irish ex-jockey - who now works as a stable hand at the famous David O’Meara stables in Upper Helmsely following his retirement from professional horse-racing - wasn’t located until 5pm the following day, when he was arrested at his home in Malton.

Davis, of Pearsons Yard, Swinton, claimed had no recollection of the crash because of recurrent memory loss following a riding accident he had at the age of 18.

His wrecked Focus was found at the scene. Forensic analysis of his mobile phone showed a series of incriminating text messages sent between the former jockey and some of his friends.

In the moments before the crash, Davis sent a Whatsapp messages to a friend “regarding a horse”.

Just after the accident, he made seven phone calls before a friend sent him a Whatsapp message which read: ‘Don’t do anything silly. I’m not far away.”

The following morning, a friend texted Davis to ask how he was. He replied: “Grand, thanks mate.”

His friend texted back to say: “Remember to say you don’t remember a thing. Just play the blank- memory card. You will be fine.”

Davis ultimately admitted two counts of causing serious injury through dangerous driving. He appeared for sentence on Thursday.

Mr and Mrs Savory, from Stamford Bridge, said their lives had been ruined by Davis’s reckless actions.

They could no longer go on trips out in the car and Mrs Savory had been unable to return to her work at the supermarket in York due to ill health. They had had had to fit “every imaginable” mobility aid at their home including grab rails.

Mrs Savory suffered from dizziness and sleeplessness and her husband had had to give up his hobbies. They had also missed out on cherished activities with their grandchildren.

Mr Savory said he had slumped into severe depression, adding: “I feel as though I’ve given up on everything. There has been no expression of remorse from (Davis) and no recognition of the damage he’s done to our family.”

Defence barrister Robert Mochrie said Davis was a hard-working man with no previous convictions but conceded that he was “looking down and fiddling with his mobile phone” before the crash.

Judge Andrew Stubbs QC said Davis had “effectively attempted to pervert the course of justice” by trying to hoodwink police with claims of memory loss.

Davis was given a 34-month jail sentence and a four-year driving ban.

Andrew Savory, the victims’ firefighter son who was given the devastating news by his boss while his parents were being cut free from the vehicle, said Davis’s sentence should serve as a warning to others who used their mobiles while driving.

Choking back tears, the father-of-two said: “He (Davis) has tried to evade justice all the way through and there was no tangible apology. It has been horrendous (and) my parents will never be the same again.”