A young driver who caused a head-on smash which put a grandmother-of-nine in a wheelchair – then took a selfie – has been jailed for two years.
Connor Young, 21, ploughed his souped-up Renault Clio head on at speed into Barry and Jennifer Fleming’s Audi TT as the couple headed back to Glasgow after a summer evening’s drive.
Then he sat in his driver’s seat and snapped himself on his mobile phone.
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Mrs Fleming, 48, suffered multiple injuries including an injury to her left foot and a compound fracture of the right ankle, spent days in hospital, and nearly two years later suffers “extreme pain” and PTSD and may still face an operation to amputate her right leg.
Her husband Barry, 40, sustained a fractured sternum, collapsed lung, and injuries to his knee and shoulder, spent five nights in hospital, and may also face further surgery.
Sheriff Simon Collins said it was “doubtful at best” that the Flemings would ever fully recover, and Mrs Fleming’s injuries were “life changing”.
The collision, on the twisting single-carriageway A833 road not far from the Falkirk Wheel, occurred about 9.10 pm on June 28, 2017 after Young swung out to overtake near a bridge, crossing double-white lines.
Young, of Bonnybridge, Stirlingshire, appeared for sentence at Stirling Sheriff Court today after a jury last month unanimously found him guilty of causing serious injury by dangerous driving.
He had denied the charge, claiming he was merely driving carelessly, and maintained his position in a pre-sentencing interview.
Sheriff Collins said: “He told social workers, that while regretting the injuries to Mr and Mrs Fleming, it was an ‘unfortunate accident’ – 15 members of the jury were satisfied his driving was dangerous.”
He added: “In particular this was the result of excessive speed. He was repeatedly overtaking or attempting to overtake when it was unsafe over a relatively long distance.
“Ultimately he crossed double-white lines on a blind bend causing a head-on collision that Mr Fleming, the driver of the other car, was powerless to prevent.
“It is surprising, perhaps extremely fortunate, that no-one was killed.”
He rejected a plea from Young’s solicitor-advocate, Martin Morrow, to keep his client out of jail.
Mr Morrow said Young came from a “decent” family and had good educational qualifications and had been assessed as “vulnerable in exposure to a prison environment”.
He told the sheriff: “That has a certain resonance. Your Lordship will be aware of the recent difficult case of young lady who was unable to cope with the prison environment and committed suicide.”
In addition to the jail term, Young was banned from driving for three years. He showed no emotion as he was handcuffed by a police officer and led to the cells, but his mother wept on the public benches.
Outside court, Mrs Fleming said: “Hopefully in jail he’ll learn a lesson about his driving. He has ruined our lives.”
Her husband called for the law to be changed so dangerous young drivers faced tougher sentences. He said: “The system is wrong. I think he deserved five years. That car in his hands was like a loaded gun.”
Last month, weeping as she gave evidence from her wheelchair, Mrs Fleming said it had been “a lovely evening” and she and Barry, who was driving, had just turned back towards Glasgow when the collision occurred.
She said: “I remember Barry just saying to me ‘Jen’! and I looked up and saw the car was coming head-on.
“I didn’t even have time to say my husband’s name back to him before he crashed into us.
“Now I can’t even push my two smallest grandchildren in a pram.”
Mr Fleming said Young’s car – which witnesses said had a “very loud exhaust” – had appeared “instamatic” in front of him on the wrong side of the road.
He said: “The airbags deployed, we saw smoke, smelled oil, my wife was hysterical.”
Mr Fleming said he managed to get out, and pulled his wife’s door open.
He said: “She tried to get out but just fell because the bone was protruding out of the side of her leg.”
He said he looked over to where Young was sitting in his Clio, holding his phone in front of his face.
A copy of the selfie he took was shown to the jury.
Young also spent several days in hospital with a broken collar bone, knee, left wrist, and femur.
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