Driver twice alcohol limit and on tranquillisers jailed for horror crash which left woman disabled

Chelmsford Crown Court

Chelmsford Crown Court - Credit: Lucy taylor

A woman has been left permanently disabled after a driver who had taken a cocktail of drink and drugs smashed into her car.

Ben Hagon, 36, was overtaking a line of slow-moving cars along the A131 at High Garrett when he crashed into the side of a Ford Ka being driven by Tara McIntyre as she waited to turn right.

One witness estimated Hagon’s 54-plate Mercedes SLK was doing 75mph in the 40mph stretch, though others said his speed was closer to 50-60mph.

Crash investigators found no attempt at braking had been made.

Chelmsford Crown Court heard yesterday that Hagon, of Acorn Avenue, Halstead, had been out drinking the night before and had drunk champagne, three pints of beer and a jug of cocktail.

A blood test calculated that Hagon had 161 milligrammes of alcohol in 100 millitres of blood, twice the legal limit.

However it also revealed Hagon had taken prescription tranquillisers as part of ongoing treatment for anxiety – ignoring advice not to drive while taking the drugs and that their effects would be worsened when combined with alcohol.

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Miss McIntyre, now 24, was airlifted to Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Cambridge, after the crash at 2.15pm on February 2 last year.

She spent three months in hospital, including some time in an induced coma, and a further two months in a rehabilitation facility.

Miss McIntyre suffered a severe head injury, fractured spine and pelvis, and had an artery cut.

As a result she now spends most of her time in a wheelchair and can only walk 60 yards with a stick, has had to learn to speak again due to the brain injury, and is partially sighted. She also needs help with day-to-day tasks.

Her boyfriend who was in the front seat escaped with minor injuries, as did Hagon.

Jane Oldfield, prosecuting, revealed Hagon had been banned for drink-driving in October 2003.

She also told the court Miss McIntyre’s parents were now having to move house as their home could not be adapted sufficiently to care for their daughter.

Rakesh Sharma, mitigating, said Hagon was now seeking help for alcohol addiction and had no intention to ever drive again.

Mr Sharma added that Hagon had separated from his wife following the crash and had difficulty sleeping.

“He thinks about the victim every day and can’t believe what he has done,” Mr Sharma added.

Hagon had admitted charges of drink-driving and causing serious injury by dangerous driving at an earlier hearing at the court.

Yesterday he was sentenced to two years eight months in jail for the dangerous driving charge and banned from driving for five years, and given three months’ imprisonment and a two year disqualification to run concurrently for drink-driving.

If Hagon wants to drive again he must take an extended re-test.

No award was made for compensation or costs due to the prison term, but Hagon must pay a victim surcharge.

Judge David Turner, sentencing, said: “Miss McIntyre went on what ought to have been a simple shopping trip and has been left with injuries which are literally life-changing. She will be dependent on others for help for the rest of her life.

“The medical consequences have been utterly traumatic. This personal catastrophe has been brought about fully by those moments of madness in your driving.

“I accept you feel considerable remorse.”

“This is frankly as bad a piece of driving in combination one can imagine.”