Published: 14:25, 07 September 2017
A father who suffered severe facial injuries when his car was hit by a drink-driver from Herne Bay said his five-year-old son could not look at him because he resembled “a monster”.
Witnesses said Richard Mannall’s car was hit in the back like a pinball by David Thompson when he lost control on a roundabout near Monkton. The force of the crash pushed Mr Mannall’s car forward, spinning it across the road.
Strapped into her seat inside was his nine-month-old daughter who miraculously escaped without a scratch.
But the accident, which happened in January, left Mr Mannall with injuries which are still causing him pain and may do so for the rest of his life. A victim impact statement read to Canterbury Crown Court said the crash had had a massive effect on him, his wife and family.
Mr Mannall’s facial injuries included four fractures. He has had surgery to insert three plates in his eye socket, cheekbone and above his mouth. Speaking about the aftermath, he said it had been heartbreaking for him when his son would not talk to him.
Before he crashed at the roundabout, Thompson, 38, of Kingston Close, Beltinge, had drunk one-third of a bottle of vodka, had been driving at 80-90mph, had overtaken cars on the inside on the hard shoulder and flashed his lights at them.
He admitted causing serious injury by dangerous driving and driving while over the alcohol limit.
Ian Foinette, prosecuting, said the crash happened on the A299 between Monkton and Minster.
"I am still in constant pain and may be for the rest of my life. I have never been so scared in all my life" - Richard Mannall
Andre Agard, who had been overtaken on the hard shoulder by Thompson just moments before the crash, saw it happen and stopped and, with his passenger, released Mr Mannall’s daughter and took her to safety before going back to help Mr Mannall, who was unconscious.
Mr Mannall also fractured a vertebrae, still suffers from numbness in his cheek, cannot eat properly because he is unable to open his mouth fully and has a partially displaced eyelid.
Thompson told the police the accident happened through a combination of alcohol and panic when he reached the roundabout.
He tried to brake but hit the accelerator instead.
Mr Mannall said he felt useless after the accident for weeks because he could not do anything and could not help his wife.
“I am still in constant pain and may be for the rest of my life,” he said.
“I have never been so scared in all my life.
“This was because my baby was in the car and to begin with I did not know if she was OK.
“I cannot comprehend how someone who had drunk so much alcohol could drive a car.
“I cannot begin to describe the massive effect this has had on my family.”
Thompson has previous convictions for driving with excess alcohol, being drunk and disorderly, theft, assault and criminal damage and has been cautioned for arson.
His barrister, Guy Wyatt, said Thompson was contrite.
“Alcohol has been a problem for him,” he told the court. “He’s addicted to gambling and on the night had speculated in stocks and shares and lost lots of money.
“He feared he would lose his relationship, home and job and found himself unable to deal with this.
“His bad driving was over a comparatively short distance and time."
"Thompson's actions have cost his victim a severe amount of physical and emotional pain and he’s lucky to be alive" - PC Nicholas Webb
Jailing Thompson for three years, Judge Heather Norton said the maximum sentence she could impose for the offence was five years and Thompson was entitled to a reduction for pleading guilty.
Thompson was also banned from driving for six and a half years and will have to take an extended test before he gets his licence back.
He will pay a £170 surcharge.
Investigating officer PC Nicholas Webb said: "Thompson’s actions have cost his victim a severe amount of physical and emotional pain and he’s lucky to be alive.
"I’m glad that Thompson will now serve time in prison where he has time to consider the consequences of his actions and hopefully make better choices in the future.
"I hope this sentence serves as a warning to anyone who is under the influence of alcohol and is considering getting behind the wheel. It simply isn’t worth the risk.
"Mistakes like this can cost lives and I’d like to reassure the public that we will do absolutely everything within our power to bring offenders to justice."
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