St Albans drink-driver left his best pal tetraplegic after crash on Harpenden Road

Court report

Court report - Credit: Archant

A St Albans man whose dangerous driving left his best friend unable to walk again, has been jailed for two years.

Thomas Bailey, 27, of Pinewood Close, pleaded guilty at St Albans Crown Court to a charge of causing serious injury by dangerous driving.

after the crash in Harpenden Road on March 29 last year, left his friend Billy Unite with life-changing injuries.

Now tetraplegic, Billy has lost the use of limbs after suffering brain and spinal injuries and has severe difficulties communicating.

Davina Mootien, prosecuting, told Recorder Patrick Fields, hearing the case, how Bailey left his home to pick his friend up and a young woman who were out drinking that night in the city.

He met the pair and drunk some alcohol himself before the three left in his car.

The court then heard how, in Harpenden Road, near to where the old fire station used to be, his Mitsubishi sped up behind another car, well over the 30 mph speed limit.

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To avoid driving into the back of the car, Bailey pulled out and overtook before cutting back into the lane.

However, his car hit the kerb and mounted the verge before spinning out of control into the oncoming lane and colliding with a Volvo.

Afterwards, Billy, who had been a front seat passenger, was found lying in the road while the young woman in the back and Bailey only suffered minor injuries.

The level of alcohol in Bailey’s blood was later tested and he was found to be over the legal limit.

The court was told Bailey and Billy Unite had been like brothers because of the closeness of their friendship.

In a remarkable act of forgiveness, members of Billy’s family were present to support Mr Bailey and had provided character references for him.

Will Noble, defending, said Bailey was a frequent visitor to Billy in hospital, often taking Billy’s grandmother with him.

Passing sentence, Recorder Fields told Bailey: “It’s been accepted on your behalf that your driving that night was of a shockingly bad standard.”

He said Billy had suffered “quite appalling injuries” and that Bailey would have to live with his remorse for the rest of his life.

He added that the fact Billy’s own family had shown Bailey mercy and compassion was honourable and humbling.

Jailing Bailey for two years, Recorder Fields banned him from driving for three years and endorsed his licence.

He was told he would also have to take an extended driving test before he could get behind the wheel of a car again.