Sunderland gran spared jail after badly injuring family of three in crash

Margaret Lowery, 79, leaving Newton Aycliffe Magistrates Court on dangerous driving charges after she crashed her car into a family car with Sophie and Jack Handyside inside
Margaret Lowery, 79, leaving Newton Aycliffe Magistrates Court on dangerous driving charges after she crashed her car into a family car with Sophie and Jack Handyside inside
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A SUNDERLAND grandmother who caused significant injury to a family of three in a car crash has walked free from court.

Margaret Lowery was driving her Vauxhall Corsa on the 
A688 near Staindrop, County Durham, when she lost control and swerved into an oncoming car.

Teesside Crown Court heard Lowery had been driving erratically for a short distance before mounting the nearside grass verge.

“She carried along the verge without braking,” said Adrian Dent, prosecuting.

“A higher section of the verge deflected her towards the opposite carriageway.

“There was a collision with a Rover 25 coming the other way, driven by Darren Handyside.

“No criticism at all can be levelled at his driving.”

Lowery later told police she felt faint but not too ill to continue driving.

The court heard that Mr Handyside, 45, from Teesdale, and his two children, front-seat passenger Jack, 11, and sister Sophie, eight, each suffered multiple injuries needing weeks of hospital treatment.

The personality of the children has altered, causing difficulties at home and school.

Mr Handyside’s relationship has broken down, he has lost his job, and may never walk unaided again, the court was told.

Lowery, 79, from Sanford Court, Ashbrooke, was uninjured.

She admitted dangerous driving on September 29 last year.

Mark Savill, defending, said in mitigation: “Mrs Lowery is a mother and a grandmother and if she could take the suffering of this family on to herself, she would.

“She has little recollection of the accident but was fit and able to drive.

“This is not a case of an elderly motorist who should not have been on the road.

“Having said that, she has surrendered her licence and will never drive again.”

Mr Savill said Lowery worked in a bank, then as a shopkeeper, and does voluntary work in retirement.

Judge Tony Briggs sentenced Lowery to 15 months in prison, suspended for two years.

The judge told her: “Often in these cases the consequences bear no proportion to the fault of the driver.

“I have no power to restore health to those who were injured, and no sentence could compensate them.

“Your remorse is total and you are entitled to draw on your previous unblemished character.

“No one who has seen this case can do anything other than weep.”

Lowery was banned from driving for life.