Driver who left friend in a coma after crash jailed

Tewkesbury Admag: Christopher Knowles was jailed for 14 months Christopher Knowles was jailed for 14 months

A 28-YEAR-OLD man who took his girlfriend’s car without permission and crashed on a drunken drive – badly injuring his best friend – has been jailed for 14 months.

Christopher Knowles, of Freeman Close, Twyning, near Upton, had driven into Worcester on Saturday, May 4, last year to pick up Daniel Clark but was in a crash in Ronkswood Road with a delivery van.

Prosecutor Paul Whitfield said 26-year-old Mr Clark was in the passenger seat and took the brunt of the impact. He is still being treated for serious injuries which have left him partly paralysed.

Knowles pleaded guilty at Worcester Crown Court to aggravated vehicle taking, driving with excess alcohol and without insurance and a licence. He was also disqualified for 12 months.

Mr Whitfield said Knowles had been staying with his girlfriend in Twyning but when she went to bed at 10.45pm he took the keys to her car and decided to drive to Worcester to see his friend Mr Clark.

The collision occurred after the driver of the delivery van estimated the car was being driven at 70mph.

The loss of control had resulted in catastrophic injuries to Mr Clark, who finished up in the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Birmingham, for operations on his brain.

He also suffered from rib and lung injuries and contraction of his joints.

Months after the accident, Mr Clark was still in a poorly state, said Mr Whitfield.

He could not speak and his upper limbs were in a contracted position.

The left side of his body was affected and his injuries had left him with depression.

Knowles, who had a conviction in 2005 for assault causing actual bodily harm, had also spent eight weeks in hospital for comparatively minor injuries.

He was breath-tested after the crash and his reading was 42 microgrammes in 100ml compared with the legal limit of 35.

The last thing he could remember was stopping at a filling station for Mr Clark to buy cigarettes.

Mr Whitfield said that a vehicle examiner had noticed a corroded brake pipe on the Peugeot car but could not say whether it contributed to the accident.

In mitigation, Adam Western said the injuries were never intended or wanted by Knowles, who said he deserved to go to prison.

He had admitted his guilt at an early stage and had tried to make right his wrong-doing by offering to make compensation out of his benefits.

“He will have to live for the rest of his life with the knowledge of what he did to Daniel Clark,” said Mr Western.

Relatives of both families were in the public gallery to hear Judge Michael Cullum say that Knowles should not have been in the car.

While it could not be said that the driving was dangerous, Knowles had accepted the responsibility of causing life-ruining injuries to Mr Clark and shown remorse.

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