'Bat out of hell' driving caused crash which left cyclist with traumatic brain injury

Dangerous driving convict Matthew Ward

Matthew Ward was jailed for 14 months at Ipswich Crown Court - Credit: Suffolk Constabulary

A 32-year-old man has been jailed for causing serious injury to a cyclist by driving dangerously – with two different types of illegal drug in his bloodstream.

Matthew Ward appeared at Ipswich Crown Court for sentencing on Friday, having admitted causing serious injury to cyclist Sam Ellis by dangerous driving at an earlier hearing on March 3.

Police, paramedics and the East Anglian Air Ambulance responded following a crash on Long Road in Lo

Police, paramedics and the East Anglian Air Ambulance responded following the crash in Long Road, Lowestoft - Credit: Archant

He also pleaded guilty to driving with 36 microgrammes of ketamine and 6.5mcg of cannabis derivative Delta-9-THC per litre of blood – the respective legal limits being 20mcg and 2mcg.

Ward, of The Larches, in Wrentham, was driving an Audi A4, which collided with a bicycle being ridden by Mr Ellis on a service road running parallel to Long Road, Lowestoft, at about 5pm on July 6, 2020.

Mr Ellis, who was in his 20s at the time of the crash, was taken to the James Paget University Hospital, in Gorleston, and subsequently transferred to Addenbrooke’s Hospital, in Cambridgeshire, where he remained for three weeks.

He suffered broken ribs, a punctured lung, a damaged spleen, a spine fracture and a traumatic brain injury. 

Prosecutor Peter Gair said a witness described Ward's Audi being driven "like a bat out of hell" before the collision sent Mr Ellis' body flying higher into the air than a six-foot fence.

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Mr Gair told the court that Ward had been arrested for drug-driving just three weeks before the crash and was later banned from the road for three years this January.

He was also on post-sentence supervision at the time, following his release from prison for a drug-trafficking conviction – one of 28 convictions for 60 offences on his record. 

Rob Pollington, mitigating, said Ward "understood and recognised the shortcomings of his decisions".

He said Ward had deficiencies in his thinking, a lack of foresight, and misused drugs to address underlying mental health issues.

Mr Pollington said there was a realistic prospect of rehabilitation in the community.

Recorder John Brooke-Smith said Ward had driven at dangerously excessive speed on a blind bend, adding: "It was a complete miracle no one was killed.

"At the forefront of my mind is the serious effect of your driving on the life of your victim."

He jailed Ward for 14 months and disqualified him from driving for three years.

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