AN Eden Valley drink-driver who left a grandmother fighting for her life after a horror head-on country road crash has been jailed for two years.
Daniel Hunt, 41, was battling a long-standing alcohol problem when he caused the smash on the B6260 between Appleby and Orton at around 2.30pm on June 5 last year.
As Hunt headed back to his parents’ home after cutting short a mountain bike ride due to mechanical problems, he turned briefly to check a noise behind him.
In that split-second, he crossed half a metre on to the wrong side of the road and struck an oncoming red 1959 left-hand drive MG containing a couple from the Penrith area who were heading to a vintage car rally.
Despite the MG driver moving as far to the left as he could, he ran out of room to avoid the Peugeot driven by Hunt who, Carlisle Crown Court heard, “didn’t seem to be taking any evasive action”.
The MG driver was left winded but looked across to see his wife, Christine Chamberlin, badly hurt.
“He remembers his wife on his right, seeing she was slumped in her seat. She was unconscious,” said prosecutor Daniel Bramhall. “She had a large wound at the top of her right leg.”
Mrs Chamberlin had also sustained appalling internal injuries to her kidneys and liver, with broken ribs, a fractured pelvis and a small bleed on the brain.
She was airlifted to hospital and underwent emergency surgery, “without which she would have died”, said Mr Bramhall.
Mrs Chamberlin, aged in her 60s, spent three weeks in intensive care and several more in high dependency units. Previously an active woman who cared for her grandchildren, she was, in April this year, still having visits from carers, and receiving neuro-physio and occupational therapy.
At the crash scene, Hunt had emerged from his vehicle with only a small cut to his ear.
He failed a breath test at the scene which showed he was more than two-and-a-half times the legal limit but said he hadn’t been drinking since the night before.
A vodka bottle was found in the car, though Hunt described hiding it there from his parents on a previous occasion.
Hunt, of Mill Corner, Murton, near Appleby, admitted causing serious injury by dangerous driving.
Defence barrister Michael Hayton QC said he was ‘mortified’ by the offence, saying: “He expresses, and has shown from the very outset very genuine and sincere remorse and regret for the outcome of his actions.”
Hunt had made positive strides since the incident and been abstinent from alcohol, save for a brief lapse in March. Prison, said Mr Hayton, “would be a massive retrograde step for him”.
But despite his mitigation, Recorder Samantha Presland jailed Hunt for two years, and banned him from driving until May, 2025.
“There needs to be a reminder to all of us who drive; all of us who drive on lovely country roads, that we are still in charge of a vehicle which, with a momentary lapse in concentration, could easily kill somebody.”