Diabetic crash driver jailed

Penny Mair, 42, Nightingale Drive, Poulton-le-Fylde
Penny Mair, 42, Nightingale Drive, Poulton-le-Fylde
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A motorist who seriously injured a cyclist after slipping into a hypoglycaemic coma at the wheel has been jailed.

Diabetic Penny Mair, 42, ploughed into the 52-year-old, on Blackpool Road, Carleton, in April 2013.

He was left with multiple injuries, needed to learn to walk again and has since been left with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

After sentencing Mair to 16 months in jail at Preston Crown Court yesterday, Judge Heather Lloyd said a custodial sentence was necessary to act as a deterrent to other motorists who may risk lives while unfit to drive.

Judge Lloyd said: “It is fortunate the cyclist was not killed. This was an accident waiting to happen.”

Mair’s blood sugar levels were 1.5, whereas they should have been somewhere between six and eight.

Mair, of Nightingale Drive, Poulton, had pleaded guilty to a charge of causing serious injury by dangerous driving.

Jane Dagnall, prosecuting, said the defendant drove diagonally across the road and into the cyclist.

She said the car appeared to be accelerating as it veered towards him and this may have been because Mair’s foot was down on the accelerator, after she had lost consciousness.

He said he remembered flying through the air before hitting a stationary car and landing on the ground.

He suffered broken ribs, puncturing his right lung. Both legs were broken in a number of places, needing screws and plates to be inserted.

He had to use a wheelchair and had to learn to walk again. His home also had to be adapted for his needs.

He and his family had suffered emotionally, physically and financially, the court was told.

At the time of the crash Mair was driving her mother and daughter as passengers.

She maintained she had checked her blood sugar levels before breakfast and before driving, but the judge said there was no evidence she had tested herself and no testing equipment was found in the car.

Judge Lloyd said the defendant – whose diabetes was diagnosed in 1984 – was said to have been experienced three hypoglycaemic episodes a week in 2006, but refused to be hospitalised.

Mair had no previous convictions and had held an unblemished driving record.

Daniel Prowse, defending, conceded a prison sentence was appropriate, but in all the circumstances, including Mair’s personal circumstances, he submitted the jail term should be suspended, with supervision and a curfew.

He told the court Mair had not been warned by doctors she should not be driving.

But Judge Lloyd told her: “The decision to drive was dangerous.

“You know you are liable to have hypoglycaemic episodes and yet you drove with your mother and daughter as passengers. This has been an accident waiting to happen.

“This matter is so serious that only immediate custody is appropriate, not just as a punishment, but a deterrent to others who may risk lives when driving while wholly unfit to do so.

“There are five such fatal crashes a year and 45 serious ones. Many go unreported.”

Mair was given a five year driving ban and must take an extended test before getting back behind the wheel in future.

Today Jon Allwright, from the Lancashire Police roads policing unit, revealed the impact the incident had on the victim’s life.

He said: “Any driver must be certain of several things before they set out on a journey; the road worthiness of the vehicle, insurance cover and the skill set of the driver, but most significantly, their fitness to drive.

“In the same vein, a diabetic must test their blood sugar prior to driving which Penny Mair did not and she should have known that she was not fit to drive.

“The victim has suffered substantial injuries and loss as an individual and the knock on effect to his family has been significant too.

“Today’s sentence will not restore what he has lost but it gives finality to the case.

“I would ask urge drivers to consider their fitness to drive before they set off and would like to remind people that an unwell diabetic driver is as dangerous as an impaired driver.”