A young man who was showing off while taking a test drive in a sporty BMW could have killed a mother and child when he took a blind bend at high speed on the wrong side of the road.
Gerry Doran, from Mollington near Banbury, then fled from the scene of the head-on crash without showing any concern for the injured woman and her autistic son whose car had ended up in a field.
After he was eventually arrested Doran pleaded guilty at Warwick Crown Court to dangerous driving and failing to stop after the collision in Ash Green, Coventry.
Doran, 20, of Farnborough Road, Mollington, was jailed for 15 months and banned from driving for two years and seven months.
Prosecutor Amanda O’Mara said that on October 1 last year Doran and a friend turned up in a Transit van at the Chana Car Centre in Wheelwright Lane, Coventry, and asked to take a Mini for a test drive.
The salesman refused, but then agreed that he could go for a test drive in a BMW 320i coupe as long as he was accompanied by one of his colleagues, Jerome Aldridge.
As soon as they set off in the car, with Doran at the wheel, Mr Aldridge next to him and his friend in the rear, he accelerated to 50 in the 30mph limit road.
Mr Aldridge told him to slow down, but after turning into New Road, Ash Green, Doran reacted by accelerating.
And as they approached a blind bend he went onto the wrong side of the road to overtake another car as a woman in a Peugeot was coming round the bend in the opposite direction.
Faced with the BMW coming straight towards her, the woman, who had her 12-year-old autistic son with her, slammed on her brakes, but could do nothing to avoid a head-on collision.
The next thing she remembered was coming round in the car in a field, with both air bags having gone off.
As well as cuts and bruises, she had suffered two broken ribs, while her son had a deep gash to his hip – but they had fortunately escaped more serious injury.
Miss O’Mara pointed out that the woman suffered from agoraphobia and anxiety, and had been encouraged to learn to drive seven years ago to help her combat that.
It had given her some freedom, but as a result of the crash she no longer feels able to drive along New Road, which adds 15 minutes to her journey to visit her disabled father, for whom she is the carer, and her son cannot go that way to school and panics when he sees other cars coming towards them.
Mr Aldridge, who escaped with grazing and bruising, heard Doran shouting to his friend to get out of the BMW, and the two of them ran from the scene back to the car centre where they got into the Transit and drove off.
Doran’s DNA was found on the driver’s airbag, but he was not arrested until he was stopped as a result of his driving on the M4 near Heathrow in February and it was found he was wanted.
Andrew Tucker, defending, said: “It could have been any one of us unfortunate enough to have been coming in the opposite direction when Gerry Doran was coming in the other direction on the wrong side of the road.”
He said Doran had married when he was just 17, and they had a child, but it did not work out.
And Mr Tucker suggested: “It may be the prospect of driving a decent car provides temporary release from his personal unhappiness. Unfortunately, he’s not a very good driver.”
Jailing Doran, Judge Anthony Potter told him: “You are remarkably fortunate not to be facing a far more serious charge.
“It beggars belief that, at the very least, neither of the people in the car you hit or the passengers in the car you were driving suffered really serious injury in the head-on collision you caused.
“There was a very real danger that someone would not only be seriously injured, but killed.
“There was no real intention by you to buy this car, you were just looking to drive a relatively high-performance vehicle.
“You initiated a staggeringly dangerous manoeuvre. Your car hit hers head-on. Mercifully she did not suffer really serious injury, and her son was not killed.
“But you showed absolutely no concern for her or her son at the time. The only concern you expressed was getting away.
“People who put themselves behind the wheel of a car and drive in the way you did are effectively putting themselves in charge of a lethal weapon.”