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Driver jailed after accident left Warwickshire teacher paralysed

A DRIVER who went straight on at a bend, hitting a woman walking her dog and leaving her paralysed from the chest down was jailed for ten months.

Sheila Vale was thrown onto the bonnet of Mark Davies’s car and into a hedge before landing on the road near her home in Sambourne.

The brain and spinal injuries she suffered left her in a wheelchair, unable to get upstairs even to shower, a court was told.

Davies, 56, of Ballard Way, Inkberrow, pleaded guilty at Warwick Crown Court to causing serious injury by dangerous driving and, as well as the prison sentence, was disqualified from driving for two years and five months.

Prosecutor Simon Hunka said that at 7.25am on 25th October, 2019 Mrs Vale, then a 49-year-old maths teacher, was taking her dog for a walk along Jill Lane, Sambourne.

She was wearing a high-vis jacket, had a torch attached to her, and the dog had a flashing collar to make them visible.

Davies was heading along Jill Lane, a 50mph road, in his Ford Ecosport SUV on his way to Studley swimming pool.

Mr Hunka said that Davies had suffered from Parkinson’s since he was 30, and was allowed to keep his licence after informing the DVLA in 1999, but was subject to a renewal procedure every three years.

He was doing an estimated 47mph on a straight stretch of road as he approached a gradual left-hand bend.

The court was told Davies appeared not to have seen Mrs Vale or the slight bend because, with his cruise control set, he went straight on without slowing.

Davies stopped and tried to help the injured woman before the police and an ambulance arrived.

As a result of the impact, Mrs Vale suffered a traumatic brain injury and damage to her spine, and is now paralysed from the chest down, unable to move her legs.

Mrs Vale told the court: “This walk was one I have done with my grandson strapped to the front of me, a thought I don’t wish to reflect on now, given what happened to me that morning.”

She said she struggled to survive in the six weeks after the incident, and “had to learn to eat again, to chew and swallow without choking,” and felt anger that, as a maths teacher, she found she could not count.

“Teaching was my vocation, to work with future generations, to make them believe they could aim for the moon, and if they missed, to still be with the stars,” she said. “The brain injury means I would have to give up my lifelong dream to teach and inspire a young generation.”

Tim Pole, defending, said: “Mr Davies knows that his actions caused that tragedy, and he has acknowledged that fact.

“His thoughts, as will everyone’s, remain firmly with Sheila Vale and her family. He has expressed his deep sorrow and remorse, and I publicly reiterate that sentiment.”

Jailing Davies, Judge Anthony Potter told him: “The impact of your driving on Mrs Vale would have been abundantly clear to you when she went through all that has been taken from her.

“I assess you as someone who has expressed genuine remorse, and I have no doubt that were you given the opportunity to change what happened, you would grasp it as tightly as you could.

“But the tragedy is that there is nothing you can do to put right all that that lady has suffered over the last 21 months and is going to suffer in the future.”

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