Published: 12:32, 11 February 2019
| Updated: 12:35, 11 February 2019
A driver who caused serious injury to four people when he failed to negotiate a bend, crossed the road and hit another vehicle head-on, has avoided an immediate jail sentence.
A court heard that Toby Cockram accepted full responsibility for the accident, which left the other driver, Hans Heister, with life-changing injuries.
Judge Simon James said that Cockram, who was also badly hurt in the crash on the A20 near Smeeth, had shown genuine remorse.
Cockram, of Hedgers Way, Kingsnorth, admitted four charges of causing serious injury by dangerous driving.
Samantha Wright, prosecuting, said the accident happened just after 3pm on June 4, 2017, when Cockram was driving his car near Caldecott House.
His wife and two other passengers were in the car when it came out of a bend, crossed the road and hit head on a BMW driven by Mr Heister.
Everyone was seriously hurt and taken to hospital.
Mrs Cockram had surgery and part of her bowel removed and the other passengers suffered fractures.
Mr Heister fractured his ribs and had to have a screw inserted in his fractured pelvis, was in a wheelchair for eight weeks and still cannot walk unaided.
“This is not a case of someone deliberately taking a risk, or speeding or trying to overtake..." Paul Hogben
Cockram, 33, who had a clean licence and no previous convictions, broke his back in two places and injured his hand.
Paul Hogben, defending, said Cockram was decent, law abiding and kind, saying: "One is at a loss to explain why his car left his side of the road and collided with the other one.
“This is not a case of someone deliberately taking a risk, or speeding or trying to overtake.
"I wonder if he nodded off for a very short time and did not make the necessary steering correction.
“He has no recollection of the accident.”
Mr Hogben said Cockram had genuine and deep remorse, was devastated at the injuries caused and had been very concerned about Mr Heister who was continuously in his thoughts.
Since 2006, Cockram had been assistant manager in the commercial sales department of a Maidstone company and was highly thought of, the court heard.
Judge James told Cockram: “Although the exact reason remains unclear the evidence is that you misjudged the bend, leading to the head-on collision.”
Cockram was given a 12-month prison sentence, suspended for 18 months. He was banned from driving for a year. and will have to take an extended test before he gets his licence back. He was also ordered to pay £1,200 costs.