Mum scarred for life after being hit by 'out of control' car as glamping trip turned into a nightmare
A mother was left scarred for life after a celebratory glamping trip turned into a nightmare when she was hit by a car at high speed and left pinned beneath the vehicle.
Natalie Cave was hurt after nurse Leanne McGough gave a teenager a driving lesson in support worker Jemma Armstrong's Audi before the pair lied to police about what happened.
Sunderland mum Natalie was sitting by the fire pit at the Dark Sky Glamping campsite in Northumberland when she was knocked down by the car, which was reversing at 'excessive' speed.
The 29-year-old was pinned beneath the vehicle with fire pit debris burning into her leg.
She suffered a broken ankle, with nerve and ligament damage which required three operations and skin grafts.
The mum-of-two was also kept in hospital for one month and was forced to quit her customer service job at Greggs as she would not be able to cope with the physical demands.
Natalie was camping over night at the beauty spot for a birthday celebration with a group of friends, including healthcare workers Leanne McGough, 37, and Jemma Armstrong, 35.
During the stay, McGough, who works as a nurse, gave a drunken teenager a driving lesson in Armstrong's Audi.
Newcastle Crown Court heard how the car went out of control and knocked Natalie and another guest to the ground in August last year.
Natalie, from Sunderland, was left seriously injured, while the other victim was unhurt.
After the crash, McGough and Armstrong, who works as a support worker, hatched a plot to hide the truth about the incident from the police.
Armstrong told police she had been the driver at the time of the accident and her fake story was backed-up by passenger McGough.
But within a day, the women went to the police station and confessed a youth had been behind the wheel at the time.
McGough, of Sheppard Terrace, Sunderland, and Armstrong, of West View, Sunderland, both pleaded guilty to perverting the course of justice.
McGough admitted a further charge of causing serious injury by dangerous driving.Natalie, who no longer speaks to the pair, was left devastated when they were handed suspended sentences by a judge at Newcastle Crown Court last Friday.Devastated Natalie, who is a single mum to Fraser, six, and Finley, four, said she now suffers from anxiety and constant pain.
She said: "My life has been whipped up from under my feet.
"It's scarred me both physically and mentally.
"I lost my job because of my injury and I can’t do anything with my sons.
"I’m the one who has to carry this around with me for the rest of my life and they just got a slap on the wrist.
"I think they’re getting off lightly. What they put me through, they deserved a prison sentence."
Prosecutor Michael Bunch told the court the teenager had been described by witnesses as "mortal and falling over drunk" after the group had been drinking.
When the "lesson" started, McGough had initially been driving, with the teen as front passenger, but they then swapped places.
Mr Bunch said: "The group became aware of the Audi, being driven in reverse, at high speed, towards the fire pit.
"Some described the speed at 50-60mph, others suggested the speed was 'excessive'.
"All witnesses effectively refer to the car being out of control."
The court heard the car hit one woman to the ground, who was uninjured, but Mr Bunch added: "The car knocked the complainant to the ground and ran over her lower right leg, pinning her to the ground.
"Some of the contents of the fire pit became lodged in her leg."
The court heard both women, who have no previous convictions, initially lied about who had been the driver, but told the truth within 24 hours.
Andrew Finley, defending McGough, handed in a pile of references from colleagues, including doctors, at Sunderland Royal Hospital, who described her as honest, thoughtful and loyal.
Mr Finley told the court: "It was an ill-judged decision for a driving lesson to take place on the field."
Vic Laffey, defending Armstrong, said the hard working and devoted mum has children with health problems, has no previous convictions and said what had been planned "as a celebration for a group of friends ended up as a disaster".
Mr Laffey said Armstrong, who feels "huge remorse", is highly regarded in her community and at work, poses a low risk to the public and is never likely to be before any court again.
Mr Recorder Thyne sentenced McGough to 21 months imprisonment, suspended for two years, with 200 hours unpaid work.
The judge told her: "There would be a significant loss to Sunderland Hospital, and nursing more widely, if you did not keep your job, in the long term."
Armstrong was sentenced to 18 weeks imprisonment, suspended for 12 months with 150 hours unpaid work.
The judge said: "There would be a harmful effect on numerous others, family members, patients and others in the event of an immediate custodial sentence."
The teenager is due to be sentenced at the youth court this week.
Natalie said she now has a recurring nightmare about her youngest son being run over, following the incident.
She said: "At the beginning my boys were so upset.
"They both broke down when they came to see me in hospital.
"I missed my little one’s first day of school because I was in hospital.
"Simple things like walking to the park I can’t do.
"I don’t feel like I’ve got closure."