Published: 06:00, 14 August 2019
| Updated: 11:12, 14 August 2019
The mother of two children, trapped inside a burning car after it crashed in Sheerness, is warning women of the dangers of being in a relationship with a bully.
Faye Davis-Smith was coerced into allowing boozed-up learner driver Michael Chapman to get behind the wheel of her seven-seater car with her one and two-year-old children inside.
Chapman then "floored" it before crashing into a tree and demolishing railings before it caught light.
The children were rescued just seconds before the vehicle exploded in New Road, Sheerness.
Chapman, of Second Avenue, Sheerness, has been jailed for three years after a jury at Maidstone Crown Court rejected his lies when he tried to claim his lover had been at the wheel.
Ms Smith-Davis and the father of one of her children sat in the public gallery as the stone-faced would-be plumber was sent to prison and banned from driving.
She said: "I am pleased he has gone to prison. Maybe he will learn how to accept responsibility because up to now he has been in denial.
"He bullied me into getting into the driver's seat that night and it was him who drove at up to 80mph before losing control and almost killing us all.
"I kept pleading with him to slow down and to let me drive. I would have got out but my two children were inside. If I had shouted for help he would have got worse.
"I had been in one abusive relationship and was vulnerable when I met him online. Very soon he began manipulating and controlling me.
"I hope my experience will be a lesson to anyone else caught up in a similar relationship - get out - because I didn't and it almost cost me the lives of my two precious children."
Her one-year-old received injuries which has left one leg shorter than the other and needing continuing treatment.
The two-year-old survived after being placed in a special car seat at the back of the silver Vauxhall Zafira.
The child's father, Brendan Harris, 25, of Nore Close, Sheerness, said after the case: "He should have been jailed for much longer after what he did.
"My daughter is still having nightmares and is frightened to get into a car now. I am learning to drive and I fear that when I am able to drive with my daughter in a car it will be sheer torture for her.
"There is still a part of me which is hurt that Faye allowed him to drive that night. I am just glad that no-one died."
The jury heard during the trial how 22-year-old Ms Davis-Smith immediately took the blame after the horror smash because she feared the consequences of allowing a learner drive to drive her vehicle.
Mr Harris heard the explosion in the early hours of September 20, 2018, while he was at home but at the time didn't realise it was the sound of the car exploding.
But he knew his ex was lying when she claimed to have caused the crash.
"I knew she hadn't been the driver," he said. "No way would she have driven like that with the children in the back.
"She has always been a careful driver and would never have floored the car at between 75mph and 80mph in a 30mph limit."
Days after the accident, Faye read that police were seeking witnesses to the crash and decided to tell police the truth - that Chapman had been the driver.
But instead of owning up, the former support worker accused her and a close friend – who he planned to ask to become godmother of his own two children – of lying.
Judge Tony Baumgartner told him his driving had been "impaired as a result of his consumption of alcohol".
He added that the crash was "a tragedy of huge proportions – and that's an understatement".
Chapman, who remained impassive throughout the sentencing hearing, was also banned from driving for three and a half years.