Banned driver jailed for Christmas Day crash which caused 'life-changing' injuries to mum and son

Newcastle Crown Court
Newcastle Crown Court

A mechanic has been put behind bars after a mum and son suffered "life-changing" injuries in a Christmas Day horror smash.

John Hemming, 21, was already banned from the roads and had been drinking when he lost control of his vehicle and smashed into Newcastle University student James Kavanagh Dutschak's smart car.

The 19-year-old undergraduate, who had been driving his mother to a festive family visit, suffered a broken back, thighbone and foot, spent two months in hospital undergoing surgery, and requires part-time use of a wheelchair as a result of his injuries.

He has had to defer his university studies and may never fully recover.

His mum Elizabeth Dutschak, who was his passenger, suffered a broken breastbone, damage to her bowel and also needed repeated surgery.

The mum and son were hit at Sandy Lane, Newcastle, on December 25 when Hemming accelerated hard at a roundabout and lost control of his car.

In a victim statement, which the son read to the court in person, he said: "This is a far cry from my life before.

"At the age of 19, life changing circumstances have been brought upon me through a selfish and reckless decision of this individual.

"I spent two months of my life in hospital after and a further two and a half months recuperating. I have been unable to attend work or education. My life is severely restricted."

The student said he now faces a life of uncertainties and no longer has the enthusiasm he did.

His mother told the court she needs further surgery and that the crash has had a massive impact on the whole family.

Hemming, of Bowman Drive, Dudley, Newcastle, admitted two charges of causing serious injury by driving while disqualified, driving with excess alcohol, driving while disqualified and careless driving.

The court heard even after causing such devastation, Hemming was caught riding a motor bike while out on bail in May.

Judge Jeremy Freedman sentenced him to two years behind bars for causing the crash plus an extra six months for breach of a previous suspended sentence for dangerous driving, which led to his original road ban.

Hemming has now been banned from the roads for four years and must pass an extended test before he is allowed back behind the wheel.

The judge told him: "The consequences of your actions on December 25 have been far reaching, in many ways calamitous.

"If ever it has been brought home how dangerous it is to drive under the influence of alcohol, when disqualified, in a reckless fashion, this is such a case.

"The consequences of what you did that day have been life-changing for two people. You wreaked havoc.

"Whatever sentence I impose will be viewed by them as being wholly inadequat. No sentence of imprisonment I can pass can give back to them the enjoyment of life which they previously had, the quality of life they previously enjoyed."

Geoff Knowles, defending, said Hemming is a qualified mechanic with an interest in cars who must learn to obey orders that stop him from driving.

Mr Knowles said Hemming was also injured in the Christmas crash.

He added: "He wishes to apologise, genuinely, to both of his victims. If he could take back what happened, he would do so in a blink."