Northern Ireland news

Drunk driver who left woman seriously injured is jailed

Peter Woods from Newry crashed his Mercedes car into a female motorist on Fathom Line after drinking. He had no licence or insurance 

A drunk driver who left a woman with catastrophic injuries in a head on crash has been jailed.

Ordering Peter Woods (35) to serve half his 30-month term in custody and the remainder on licence, Judge Paul Ramsey QC said it was clear from the victim’s “eloquent and poignant” statement the extent of the devastation which she and her family had faced.

At an earlier hearing Woods, from Ardcarn Park in Newry, entered guilty pleas to causing grievous bodily injury to Nicole Christmas by careless driving with excess alcohol and driving without insurance on January 13, 2020.

Judge Ramsey outlined that just before 9.30am that morning, the victim was driving her black Saab along the Fathom Line in the city when she was confronted by a Mercedes car coming in the opposite direction.

The Mercedes crossed over the white line but with a wall to her left hand side, Ms Christmas “had nowhere to go and knew that an impact was inevitable,” said the judge adding that with her air bags deployed and a smell of smoke in the car, she “screamed for help.”

A number of people, including the defendant, stopped to help and eventually they got her out of the passenger door but she was “in excruciating pain in her pelvic area” and on hearing Woods repeatedly apologising at the scene, “she became understandably angry and was shouting ‘how dare you do this to me and my family.”

Ms Christmas had sustained a fractured pelvis and a double fracture of the spine which resulted in her having to spend eight weeks in hospital and although the incident was two years ago, she is still receiving treatment as she is “slowly but surely putting her life back together again.”

Arrested and interviewed, Woods said he had been drinking the night before, had only had four hours sleep with no breakfast and claiming he had only gotten the Mercedes the night before, accepted that he had neither a licence to drive nor insurance to drive the car which had two bald tyres.

The judge said while he accepted Woods’ remorse and regret was genuine and that he had a clear record, in cases such as this “personal mitigation carries little weight” when put into the balance and where it’s “clear that a deterrent sentence is needed.”

“He is someone who will have to carry for the rest of his life, the knowledge and shame that he is solely responsible for the devastation to the victim and he has admitted his guilt in open court,” declared the judge.

Woods was also banned from driving for two years.

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