Drunk driver jailed after 120mph crash

PUBLISHED: 16:09 30 May 2008 | UPDATED: 22:00 26 October 2009

A BUILDING labourer driving home from a work Christmas party was three-and-a-half times over the legal limit when he smashed into another car at 120mph, a court heard. The crash left the woman driver of the other car with serious brain injuries, and suffe

A BUILDING labourer driving home from a work Christmas party was three-and-a-half times over the legal limit when he smashed into another car at 120mph, a court heard.

The crash left the woman driver of the other car with serious brain injuries, and suffered a personality change.

Arunas Didelis, a Lithuanian national living in WGC, was jailed for 16 months after admitting dangerous driving and driving with excess alcohol.

Helena Lewer, prosecuting at St Albans Crown Court, said the crash happened just before the entrance to the Hatfield tunnel on the A1(M) at 9.10pm on Saturday, December 15 last year.

The 25-year-old defendant, of Ryelands, was behind the wheel of his Vauxhall Omega heading north in the outside lane. Witnesses said he was swerving.

Victim Sandra Price was in the middle lane in her VW Golf, on her way to visit her elderly parents in WGC.

Miss Lewer told the court how the Omega drifted towards the central reservation before moving violently back into the middle lane where it struck the rear of Mrs Price's car.

"This led her car to cross into the hard shoulder, where it struck a safety barrier at the side of the road before rebounding across the whole of the carriageway and coming to rest in the outside lane" said Miss Lewer.

Such was the impact that the whole of the Golf's rear had been crushed.

Didelis' car went into a spin before rolling and overturning onto its roof. It finally came to a rest 265 metres inside the tunnel on the hard shoulder.

Miss Lewer said when police accident investigators examined the wreckage of the Omega, they found the speedometer had stopped with the dial pointing to just under 120mph.

Around six hours later, when Didelis provided a blood sample, it was found he was still two-and-a-half times over the legal drink drive limit.

A back calculation revealed he was probably around three-and-a-half times over at the time of the crash.

Among the debris scattered across the carriageway close to the Omega were cans of lager that had come from inside the vehicle.

The court heard Mrs Price spent three months in hospital recovering from her injuries.

There had also been a considerable knock on effect for her family. Before the crash, she had been the carer for her disabled husband, as well as looking after her elderly parents, who are in their 80s.

The prosecutor said Mrs Price's father, who has suffered four heart attacks in the past, has had to postpone a triple bypass operation because there is no-one at present to care for him once he has had the operation.

Maurice Astin, defending, said Didelis had come to the UK five years ago and worked as an unskilled labourer in the construction industry to support his family back home.

He said: "He is deeply ashamed and shocked at what has happened. He is a hardworking individual and a family man."

The court was told Didelis had drunk more than his usual amount at the party, with the effect that his judgement had been impaired and he had decided to drive home.

As well as prison, Didelis was disqualified from driving for three-and-a-half years.

Judge Stephen Warner said: "This was an appalling course of driving which involved reckless disregard for the safety of other road users.


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