A lorry driver who caused a horror crash while high on cannabis has been spared jail despite leaving a man in a coma for seven weeks.
Leigh Ivory was stoned at the wheel of a 20-ton tipper truck when it smashed into a tractor in Roman Road, near Wingham Wildlife Park.
Farm shop boss Richard Dyer was airlifted to hospital with a broken neck, fractured skull and bleed on his brain, and continues to suffer the “profound and life-changing” effects of his injuries.
But 26-year-old Ivory - who admitted being unfit to drive through drugs - has avoided prison time after appearing before a judge for sentencing.
Canterbury Crown Court heard how the collision occurred as Ivory overtook Mr Dyer’s Massey Ferguson as it was indicating to turn into Wingham Country Market, which the 51-year-old runs with his wife.
Mr Dyer was thrown from the tractor's cab, suffering serious head injuries and a number of broken bones.
Prosecutor Paul Valder told the court: “Mr Dyer was overtaken by the defendant, who was driving a rear-tipping lorry which was laden with mud.
“There is evidence to suggest there was an eight-second window in which the defendant would have been able to see the indicator of the tractor.
“There was a collision as the lorry was seeking to overtake, which tipped Mr Dyer out of the cab and he suffered life-changing injuries.”
Mr Dyer was flown by air ambulance to a London hospital in a critical condition.
He was treated for a fractured skull, a bleed on the brain, and a broken neck, collar bone and ribs.
He remains deaf in one ear, “exhausted all the time, physically unable to do the things he used to do to keep the business going”, Mr Valder added.
His injuries mean he has been unable to pursue plans to expand his businesses or undertake his hobby in vintage cars.
During the seven weeks he spent in a coma, he missed his 50th birthday and wedding anniversary.
The A257 Roman Road was closed for nine hours as the Serious Collision Investigation Unit worked to establish the cause of the crash, which took place at about 1.30pm on March 1, 2021.
Ivory, a father-of-three who lives in Nicholas Road, Canterbury, pleaded guilty before trial to causing serious injury by dangerous driving and driving a vehicle while unfit through drugs.
A police roadside test revealed the former Canterbury Academy student had 5.1 micrograms of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) - the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis - per litre of blood in his system, as well as traces of cocaine. The legal limit for THC is two micrograms per litre of blood.
The court heard Ivory’s driving would not have been deemed dangerous in the eyes of the law, had he not been under the influence.
Phil Rowley, mitigating, said the defendant felt “deep sadness” after hearing of the trauma his victim suffered.
He stressed Ivory had “genuine remorse”, wished to address his cannabis habit and presents “a very low risk of reconviction in the future”.
Handing down two years imprisonment suspended for two years, Judge Mark Weekes told Ivory that his actions have had “profound and life-changing consequences”.
The judge said despite Ivory’s pledge to quit using drugs, he was “most concerned” over a police caution he received for cocaine possession shortly after the crash.
Ivory - who now works as a binman - was ordered to complete six months of drug rehabilitation, 300 hours of unpaid work, a five-month curfew and two-year driving ban.
He must also pay £1,000 of compensation to Mr Dyer within 18 months.