A DRUNKEN woman from Bearley had to be dragged from her burning car after it hit three other vehicles on the A46 near Stratford before leaving the road and bursting into flames.
And Victoria Parry heard a judge remark that, with two previous convictions for drink-driving, if she was a man, ‘it would have been straight down the stairs’ to prison.
But the judge at Warwick Crown Court then gave Parry, 30, of Grange Road, Bearley, Stratford, who had pleaded guilty to dangerous driving, a chance to escape being jailed.
Judge Sarah Buckingham deferred sentence on her for three months, setting down various conditions Parry, who was getting through two bottles of wine a day, has to meet to avoid custody.
Prosecutor Tim Sapwell said that at 6.50pm on May 23 last year Parry’s Fiat Stilo hit three other vehicles on the A46 Stratford by-pass just south of the Marraway island.
She overtook on the cross-hatchings in the centre of the road, into the face of oncoming traffic, and other drivers had to take avoiding action. “But her driving was such that she caught the rear bumper of a van, and she next hit the wing mirror of a Vauxhall Insignia, and then the side of a BMW very heavily.”
She hit it with such force that the BMW’s rear wheel was knocked off and the car was written off, pointed out Mr Sapwell. “It caused her Fiat to spin in the road and go down the embankment into a wooded area where it caught fire.”
Other drivers stopped and rushed to her aid, including an off-duty police inspector who released her from her seat belt and pulled her out of the burning car. He noticed she smelled of drink, and Parry told him that she had had a bottle of wine and ‘I shouldn’t be driving.’
That was not only because of the amount she had had to drink, but because she had been banned from driving for three years in July 2015 for her second excess alcohol offence.
Parry was arrested, and when she took a breath test at the police station almost two hours later, the reading was only just under three times the legal limit, added Mr Sapwell.
Lucy Tapper, defending, said: “There is deep and genuine regret on her part. “Having a crash presents its own consequences in terms of what you’ve done, and to have your car burst into flames is quite terrifying. She says she thought she was going to die. This has been a very salutary lesson to her. I would ask that she be spared immediate custody, if at all possible.”
She said Parry had been in an abusive relationship for 15 years, and for the last five years had found herself with a considerable drink problem. “She was unable to tackle that after the first offence and after the second offence, but since this matter she has all but stopped drinking.”
Judge Buckingham remarked: “All but! So she hasn’t stopped.” Miss Tapper said Parry had ‘got it under control,’ and was no longer drinking two bottles of wine a day, and was out of the relationship and in a job where she had stepped down from a management role but was now working her way back up.
The judge commented: “If Miss Parry was a man, there is no question it would have been straight down the stairs, because this is a shocking case of dangerous driving against a background of two previous convictions for excess alcohol.
“But this offence was committed in May 2018 and she has not been in trouble since. She has clearly got an alcohol problem. She is, whether she admits it or not, an alcoholic.”
Deferring sentence, Judge Buckingham told Parry: “You richly deserve an immediate custodial sentence of 18 months. I want to see whether you can really address the issues rather than paying lip service.”
She laid down that Parry had to abstain from alcohol, attend meetings of a body such as Alcoholics Anonymous, and, pointing out that she should save the cost of two bottles of wine a day, pay for private counselling to tackle her alcohol problem.
And she added: “If you succeed, I will not make the custody immediate. If you don’t comply, I will conclude that you are not worthy of the chance.”