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Canterbury driver sentenced after causing crash in Sturry Road that left man paralysed

A woman who caused a crash that left a motorcyclist paralysed from the chest down has been “forgiven” by the man whose life she changed forever.

Amanda Ballard pulled out of a junction in Canterbury and struck a bike being ridden by Jacob Davies-Pykes, who was flung into the air and into an oncoming vehicle.

Amanda Ballard told police she just did not see Jack Davies-Pykes' motorbike before she hit it
Amanda Ballard told police she just did not see Jack Davies-Pykes' motorbike before she hit it

The collision left him with a “catastrophic” spinal injury that means he will never walk again.

He has even been forced to move out of the area - and away from his twin brother for the first time - to a specially adapted home in Medway.

But Ballard, who lives in Canterbury, avoided a custodial sentence when she appeared at Folkestone Magistrates’ Court on Thursday.

The 51-year-old had admitted a charge of causing serious injury by careless driving at a previous hearing in August, at which she was said to have shared a hug with Mr Davies-Pykes.

He was in court with his mother last week as Ballard learned her fate, listening as the prosecution outlined the tragic events of December 15 last year.

A district judge was told Mr Davies-Pykes was riding his motorcycle along Sturry Road when Ballard pulled her Toyota Yaris out of the Brymore Road junction after being flashed by a van as an indication she could do so.

Ballard did not see the motorbike and crashed into it, propelling Mr Davies-Pykes into an oncoming vehicle.

Footage of the collision was captured on dashcam by an off-duty police officer who had been waiting in traffic nearby.

Christina Rowberry, prosecuting, said: “It was dark and drizzly and all vehicles had their lights on.

“The defendant edged out [of the road] and a van coming the other way flashed its lights to indicate she could pull out.

“She pulled forward and struck the motorbike, and [Mr Davies-Pykes] went over the bike to the side.

“He suffered a catastrophic spinal injury and had no recollection [of the crash]. He woke up in hospital with no feeling in his legs.”

Ms Rowberry told the court Mr Davies-Pykes, who was 44 at the time of the crash, had suffered a devastating spinal fracture that had paralysed him from the chest down.

The crash happened at the junction of Brymore Road and Sturry Road in Canterbury. Picture: Google Maps
The crash happened at the junction of Brymore Road and Sturry Road in Canterbury. Picture: Google Maps

She added there is still a risk he could lose movement in his arms, with doctors carefully monitoring his recovery and providing ongoing treatment on his spine.

Mr Davies-Pykes also suffered a number of other injuries, to his chest, head and shoulder, but the impact on him has not just been physical.

The prosecutor described the emotional toil the crash has had on him, telling how he has been forced to live alone in specially adapted temporary accommodation.

“He now has to live away from his family,” she said, telling of Mr Davies-Pykes’ battle to rent a suitable property.

“He used to share a house with his brother, but is lonely now as he is not living there.

“But his outlook has been incredible and should be commended. He has found it hard to address his disability, but he is hopeful a trike may be possible in the future.

“The crash has had devastating consequences, but he has an amazing outlook.”

The court was told Ballard, who has no previous convictions, had shown remorse since the crash and wanted to apologise to Mr Davies-Pykes and his family.

After the accident she told police the thought of what she had done had left her feeling “sick” and wishing it was her who had been injured.

She accepted Mr Davies-Pykes had right of way at the time of the accident but said she had simply not seen him because of a momentary lapse in concentration.

The court was also told she was battling cancer and still receiving treatment, but was prepared to accept any punishment given to her.

Causing serious injury by dangerous driving carries a maximum sentence of two years in prison, and at the level of harm and culpability in Ballard’s case a range up to 26 weeks' custody.

But District Judge Justin Barron decided to place her on an 18-month community order which will see her complete 150 hours of unpaid work and attend 10 rehabilitation sessions.

He also banned Ballard from driving for a year.

Ballard appeared at Folkestone Magistrates' Court for sentencing
Ballard appeared at Folkestone Magistrates' Court for sentencing

“It was a momentary loss of attention,” the judge said, addressing the defendant during sentencing.

“You pulled out and you didn’t see him, then the collision happened.

“It was a tragedy as he went into the path of another vehicle, which caused catastrophic injuries.

“You were flashed by another vehicle, but you should have looked carefully and further into the road.

“He had the ability to forgive you on the last occasion [in court]. It’s what he did and he should be commended for that.”

Mr Davies-Pykes will be compensated for his injuries through Ballard’s insurance company.

He has already received an interim payment, but it is not known how much compensation he will finally be awarded.

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