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Wrong-way driver fined after crashing into car in Maidstone, injuring two

A driver who smashed into another car, injuring a mother and daughter, while on the wrong side of the road has been fined £5,000.

Businessman Paul McCreery was cleared of two offences of causing serious injury by dangerous driving but convicted of the lesser charges of careless driving.

A judge said when passing sentence it came “exceptionally close” to dangerous driving over a prolonged period of time.

General view of Smarden Road, Headcorn. Picture: Google Street View
General view of Smarden Road, Headcorn. Picture: Google Street View

He ordered McCreery, of The Street, Ulcombe, Maidstone, to pay each of the two victims £5,000 in compensation.

Maidstone Crown Court heard Marion Wiseley and her concert pianist daughter Jane were driving home from a garden centre along 60mph limit Smarden Road in Headcorn at about 2.30pm on May 9 last year.

They were hit head-on by McCreery’s Audi as he came around a bend on the wrong side.

Marion Wiseley described it as being “headlight to headlight”.

“She heard a loud bang and saw a flash of light,” said prosecutor Simon Taylor. “The airbags were deployed. She tried to turn on the hazard lights.

“She was struggling to breathe. She got out. As she did so the other driver approached to see if she was OK and offered the use of his mobile telephone.”

Jane Wisely described the crash as like “treading on a land mine”.

The roof of the Fiesta had to be cut off to get them out. The victims were taken to William Harvey Hospital in Ashford.

Mr Taylor said McCreery admitted to a police officer he drove on the wrong side of the road after leaving Mower Plant Services just 0.2 miles from the crash scene.

Jane Wisely was treated for fractures of the sternum (breast bone), collarbone and vertebrae. She was referred to King’s College Hospital in London for further treatment.

Her mother was treated for fractures to her vertebrae and a broken toe.

McCreery, 65, said in a statement after his arrest he had a momentary lapse in concentration and drove on the right hand side of the road.

Maidstone Crown Court
Maidstone Crown Court

“I was travelling at just under 30mph,” he said. “Because of the tall hedges it was not a clear stretch of road.

"As I reached a sharp right hand bend a car came into view and there was not time to take evasive action and swerve to the left. I braked quickly and a collision occurred.”

Recorder David Jeremy QC said McCreery could do little else than admit he was at fault at the scene.

“It strikes me that it is blindingly obvious that to drive for 200 to 300 metres for several seconds and not realising the carriageway is on the other side, is not a momentary lapse,” he continued.

“It was a prolonged piece of careless driving that was as close to dangerous driving as it could possibly be.

“The harm done to Marion and Jane Wisely was severe but I acknowledge that the harm was far less than the catastrophe to their friends and family had you in fact killed them if they had been driving even a little faster.”

As well as imposing the fine and compensation “as a decent token” of his remorse, McCreery was banned from driving for a year, despite his barrister arguing he relied on his licence for his consultancy business.

He said the financial award would go some way in compensating the victims for the “distress, disappointment, uncertainty and life changes” they had experienced.

Jane Wisely had made her debut as a concert pianist a month before the crash.

"It has set my life back some considerable time, causing immense pain and possible finality for a career I was passionate about" - Jane Wisely

She spent six weeks in hospital and needed extensive physiotherapy.

She was unable to keep up her daily piano practice and now struggles to sit due to her fractured spine vertebrae.

In a statement Miss Wisely said she was still hopeful of achieving her dream, which she had been working towards for six years at the time of the collision.

“It has set my life back some considerable time, causing immense pain and possible finality for a career I was passionate about,” she wrote.

Tom Stern, defending, said the collision resulted from a mistake on McCreery’s part rather than deliberate poor driving.

“This appears to have been very much an aberration as to his driving ability and skill, and to his judgment,” added Mr Stern.

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