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Mum Jessica Bryant jailed after driving car into teenagers sitting on bench in Gillingham High Street

A young mother has been jailed after reversing a car into two teenage girls and injuring them as they sat on a bench in Gillingham High Street in the early hours.

Jessica Bryant was intoxicated and had no driving licence and insurance when she climbed behind the wheel of a friend’s car and caused “horror”, using the vehicle as “a weapon”.

The 22-year-old was shown on CCTV footage driving past a group of youngsters congregating on the bench in the pedestrianised area of Gillingham High Street at around 3.30am on November 1 last year.

Gillingham High Street: Google images
Gillingham High Street: Google images

Prosecutor Antony Hook said Bryant then reversed the Vauxhall Corsa at speed with devastating consequences, hitting Emily Church, 15, and 17-year-old Molly King.

Miss Church was most seriously injured. She described a “chunk” being missing from the back of her leg and an injured ankle she feared was broken.

She was on crutches for a week and off school for two weeks. She has been left scarred and is now too embarrassed to wear shorts or a skirt.

“It is clear you drove the car in a dangerous manner. In my judgement, you deliberately collided with those sitting on the bench” - Judge Philip Statman

Miss King escaped with bruising to her lower right leg and is fully recovered.

Mr Hook said Miss Church told how her favourite subject at school had been PE and she was taking a GCSE in the subject. She had to switch to media studies, which she did not enjoy as much.

After the crash, friends of the two girls chased after the car and pulled Bryant out. Her friend was a passenger. Bryant was arrested and found to be one-and-a-half times the legal alcohol limit.

Mr Hook said the victims were vulnerable and Bryant, whose four-year-old son lives with her mother, had used the car as a weapon.

She had previous convictions for shoplifting and racially threatening abusive words and behaviour. She had three cautions, one in 2011 for battery.

Judge Philip Statman presided over the case
Judge Philip Statman presided over the case

Bryant, of St Albans Close, Gillingham, admitted unlawful wounding, assault causing actual bodily harm, dangerous driving and having no driving licence and insurance at Maidstone Crown Court.

Before jailing her for 14 months, Judge Philip Statman said he would be regarded as a dinosaur if he commented on young people being out at 3am.

“You used this car as a weapon. You had no licence and little driving experience" - Judge Philip Statman

He told Bryant: “It is clear you drove the car in a dangerous manner. In my judgement, you deliberately collided with those sitting on the bench.”

The judge said of Miss Church: “As a young woman she is acutely aware of the cosmetic damage left to her leg.” He added: “You used this car as a weapon. You had no licence and little driving experience. I bear in mind you have a young child.

“But I have absolutely no hesitation in indicating these offences clearly pass the custody threshold. It would be wholly wrong to deal with you by way of a non-custodial sentence.”

Bryant was banned from driving for three years.

Daniel Benjamin, defending Jessica Bryant, told the judge: “Anything I say in no way seeks to diminish the horror she feels about her actions that night.”

When asked if she wanted to see photos of the injuries she caused, Bryant broke down in tears.

Maidstone Crown Court. Picture John Wardley
Maidstone Crown Court. Picture John Wardley

Mr Benjamin said: “She can’t explain, can’t recollect, what was going through her mind from the point she got in the car to begin to drive that night, let alone when she got to the High Street.”

Judge Statman said: “I don’t suppose if you are sitting there at 3am you think you are going to be hit by a vehicle reversing at speed.”

Bryant, who appeared in court wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with the words “My life my rules”, had declared: “If I could go back I would rather I got hurt.”

She was at a low ebb having suffered a miscarriage. She became pregnant while on bail, said Mr Benjamin.

Since committing the offence she had stopped drinking and stayed in. She had applied to start a college course in animal care in September.

Mr Benjamin urged the judge to pass a suspended sentence with unpaid work and a curfew to “put her future back in her own hands”.


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