Man fell asleep at wheel before causing serious crash near Stowmarket, court hears

Ipswich Crown Court ANL-140617-141524001
Ipswich Crown Court ANL-140617-141524001

A man who caused a crash in which a teacher was critically injured blames a medical condition for his apparent loss of consciousness, a court has been told.

The collision at a roundabout on Tot Hill, near Stowmarket, on April 2 last year resulted in Helen Hemy, a teacher at Bacton Middle School at the time, having to be airlifted to hospital.

Doctors twice placed Mrs Hemy in an induced coma during the 15 days she spent in Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Cambridge.

She had suffered multiple rib fractures, a blood clot on her brain, internal bleeding, a punctured lung and had to have her spleen removed.

Mrs Hemy said in a statement read in court that her injuries had been ‘life threatening’.

Today (Wednesday) John King, 78, was found unanimously guilty of causing serious injury by dangerous driving by a jury at Ipswich Crown Court.

During his trial this week the court heard allegations that King, aged 76 at the time, had failed to pull over on the A14 after feeling drowsy, despite passing four laybys, and then turned up a slip road where the crash happened.

King, of Witney Close, Ipswich, had pleaded not guilty to the offence.

Christopher Paxton, prosecuting, told the jury King said he had no memory of the accident.

Following his arrest he had police officers he did remember turning off the A14 before feeling ‘like a light had been switched off’.

King said he had started feeling drowsy as he drove past Woolpit and decided to pull off at the Tot Hill service station to either have a sleep or buy a can of drink.

When interviewed about the cause of the collision, King said: “I think it’s a medical problem that caused a loss of consciousness.”

But King told the jury he would have pulled over and stopped if he had felt as if he was about to fall asleep while driving.

Mr Paxton said King’s Lexus car was found to be in good condition and there was no evidence to show he had braked hard or attempted to steer away immediately before the impact.

“The most plausible explanation was that he had fallen asleep towards the top of the slip road,” he said.

King will return to court to be sentenced on September 18.