Derbyshire van driver jailed for causing head-on road crash which ‘ruined’ motorist’s life

South Normanton van driver Chey Clark who caused a head-on road smash in Cumbria which 'ruined' a fellow motorist's life was blasted for 'impatience, selfishness, stupidity' behind the wheel.
South Normanton van driver Chey Clark who caused a head-on road smash in Cumbria which 'ruined' a fellow motorist's life was blasted for 'impatience, selfishness, stupidity' behind the wheel.

A South Normanton van driver who caused a head-on road smash which ‘ruined’ a fellow motorist’s life was blasted for ‘impatience, selfishness, stupidity’ behind the wheel.

Chey Clark pulled out from a busy line of westbound A66 traffic, in darkness and “above the speed limit” at Brougham, near Penrith, Cumbria, just after 6am on February 9 last year.

As 24-year-old Clark attempted an overtake dubbed ‘almost impossible’ by a judge, his Vauxhall Vivaro slammed into an oncoming goods vehicle despite driver Mark Bowcock’s desperate attempts to take evasive action.

Dashcam footage from the HGV - played at Carlisle Crown Court - captured a crash which destroyed both vehicles, and recorded Mr Bowcock screaming out in pain.

Brendan Burke, prosecuting, said experienced driver Mr Bowcock had seen the defendant’s vehicle ‘coming straight at him’.

“It was, he says, as if I was not there and he (Clark) was going to drive right through me,” said Mr Burke.

Mr Bowcock was ‘thrown around’ his cab, left drifting in and out of consciousness, ‘remembers glass falling all around him’ and being in ‘excruciating pain’.

“There was a point at which he panicked and thought he was dying,” said Mr Burke.

“He was able to speak with his wife at that point in the phone.”

Mr Bowcock recalled that it ‘felt like an eternity’ until he was cut free from his vehicle.

He suffered broken bones to his right foot, broken ribs, a badly bruised lung, cuts and bruises, and still had glass embedded in his head several months later.

He was unable to drive for months, and suffered from flashbacks and nightmares.

Mr Bowcock, aged in his 50s, of Alvaston, Derby, later said the collision had ‘ruined’ his life, while his wife spoke of being left ‘broken’ amid the significant long-term impact on their family.

Clark was sentenced on Tuesday after having admitted causing serious injury to Mr Bowcock by dangerous driving.

A man of previous good character, Clark had also suffered serious injuries in a crash he could not recall.

Thomas Stanway, defending, said: “He bitterly regrets the incident, and in fact stated to me that if he could bear all the complainant’s injuries himself from this incident he would do.”

Judge James Adkin described the driving of Clark, of Coronation Drive, South Normanton as ‘impatience, selfishness, stupidity’.

Jailing him for 20 months, Judge Adkin also imposed a two-year driving ban, and an extended re-test.

“The reality is here that it was just pure luck that Mr Bowcock was not any more seriously injured or even killed,” said the judge.