CALL FOR CHANGE IN LAW AFTER TEEN BLINDED IN HIGH-SPEED CAR CRASH
November 10, 2005
By Hugh Fort
A MOTHER from Wildridings is demanding a change in the law after her teenage son was blinded following a high-speed car smash.
Debbie Woollam wants to see a new offence of causing injury by dangerous driving after her son's vision was blighted when a speeding Carl Graham crashed the car they were travelling in.
Her then 17-year-old son, David Adams, lost sight in one eye and suffered impaired vision in the other after a spin in Graham's Seat Leon.
Graham, from Lower Earley, was found to be driving at least 20mph over the 30mph speed limit.
He was convicted of dangerous driving after a trial in September and was sentenced to a 200-hour community punishment order last Friday at Reading Crown Court.
After the hearing, Mrs Woollam said: "They need to change this law.
"All Graham got done for was dangerous driving - they have taken into account the injuries caused but not the actual offence of causing injuries by dangerous driving.
"I think they are trying to bring such a law in."
Last month the Government tabled several amendments to the Road Safety Bill adding new driving offences including causing death when driving while unlicensed and the long-campaigned for death by careless driving.
Adams, now 19, had enjoyed a night watching his friends ice skating when he and his friend Melissa Bull decided to get into Graham's car to keep out of the cold while waiting for a lift from her mum.
But their request for a spin turned into a high-speed smash on February 2 last year and his dreams of becoming a courier driver were destroyed because of his eye injuries.
The court previously heard while the front seat passengers were wearing seatbelts, it
was unlikely Mr Adams and Ms Bull were strapped in behind.
Tetteh Turkson, defending, said Graham, who had no previous convictions, had to be sentenced for "one minute of driving", the estimate of how long it took to drive up John Nike Way and back down.
"The driving was at the instigation of other people," he added.
"Graham accepts he brought it on himself, had he been driving a few miles per hour slower then perhaps no collision would have occurred.
"He genuinely regrets the incident and does seem to have been greatly affected by it."
Sentencing the now-21-year-old, Mr Recorder Simon Cooper called it "one minute of foolhardiness".
He said Graham's speed made his driving dangerous and he ignored a plea to slow down.
"The result was catastrophic, particularly for Mr Adams, someone you barely knew, left registered blind as a result, the effect far-reaching and long-lasting," he said.
"Clearly you had no intention to cause that injury but it's so serious a prison sentence could be justified but the knowledge of what you have done will be punishment for the rest of your life."
He imposed a 200-hour community punishment order,
a two-year driving disqualification and ordered him to pay £1,000 costs so Graham's resources could be concentrated on the civil action for Mr Adams' rehab needs.
Ms Woollam added: "I don't think David is ever going to get over it, it's life changing.
"He's still got to have rehab and it will improve his life a little but at the moment he hasn't got much of a life.
"My wish is he gets a bit of his independence back once he gets his rehab."