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Drink-driver jailed for causing head-on smash

PUBLISHED: 18:12 28 November 2018 | UPDATED: 10:37 29 November 2018

Rachel Hawley wreckage

Rachel Hawley wreckage

A drink-driver who caused a head-on crash that left a woman trapped in the wreckage of her car for two hours while firemen freed her has been jailed for 12 months.

Rachel Hawley  Picture: JANE HUNTRachel Hawley Picture: JANE HUNT

Shortly before the collision on the A1095 Alexander Aitchison, who has a previous conviction for drink driving, was seen to overtake a line of around six cars on the single carriageway road, Ipswich Crown Court heard.

Rachel Hawley, 49, was driving in her Mercedes estate from her home near Norwich to Southwold for an afternoon’s shopping at around 1.45 pm on February 15 and was close to a bend between the A12 and Southwold when Aitchison’s BMW came towards her on the wrong side of the road, said Richard Kelly, prosecuting.

Mrs Hawley screamed and heard a bang before blacking out and coming round to find herself trapped in her car in a field.

It took the fire service two hours to cut her free during which she was in severe pain and drifted in and out of consciousness.

Although she didn’t suffer any fractures she suffered extensive soft tissue damage and swelling resulting in ongoing pain.

When Aitchison was breathalysed he was found to have 104 milligrams of alcohol in 106 millilitres of blood - the legal limit is 80 milligrammes.

After the collision Aitchison was heard to say: “I shouldn’t be driving” and alcohol was smelled on his breath.

Aitchison, 33, of Monewden Hall, Monewden, admitted dangerous driving and drink driving and was jailed for 12 months and banned from driving for four years and six months. He was also ordered to pay £1,000 costs. The court heard he had a previous conviction for drink driving in 2008.

Sentencing him, Judge John Devaux said there had been “prolonged bad driving” before the collision.

He acknowledged Aitchison suffered serious leg injuries in the collision and an immediate prison sentence might result in a delay to planned surgery.

His injuries required an external fixator stabilizing frame fitting to his leg.

Karim Khalil QC, for Aitchison, said he had been severely affected by the accident and felt genuine anguish for what happened to Mrs Hawley.

Aitchison had been working in his role as a taster on the day in question and had driven without thinking after getting a call to go home.

Mrs Hawley described Aitchison’s driving as “selfish and dangerous”.

In a victim impact statement read to the court she said her life had been changed for ever by the crash and she couldn’t forgive him for what he’d done.

Although she didn’t break any bones in the collision she suffered extremely painful and extensive soft tissue damage which had impacted on her previously very active lifestyle.

She had also suffered flashbacks in the weeks following the collision and it was weeks before she could face getting back in her car.

She received counselling and the collision had also deeply affected her family.

Her husband Keith Saunt was in a meeting in Norwich when he received a call from a man on his wife’s phone telling him she had been in an accident.

“He said she was trapped in her car in a field and he was holding her hand,” said Mr Saunt.

The couple were shocked to hear that Aitchison had a previous conviction for drink driving.

“Perhaps this will be a wake up call for him,” said the couple.

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