'Her innocence is shattered' - five-year-old girl seriously injured by 'lunatic' driver in A47 crash
PUBLISHED: 10:47 19 October 2019 | UPDATED: 08:40 20 October 2019
A "lunatic" driver who smashed head-on into a family returning from a seaside holiday on the A47, seriously injuring a young girl, has been jailed for four years.
Carlos Lester was banned from driving and under investigation for other driving offences when he crashed into a Volvo towing a caravan near Wisbech on May 29.
He had crossed into the wrong side of the road and fled the scene after his car spun into a ditch, leaving one of his victims to be cut from their car.
"A man and his wife and their five-year-old granddaughter had been on a caravan holiday in and around Hunstanton," prosecutor Danielle O'Donovan told Norwich Crown Court.
"There came a point when the mother of the young girl had a phone call. She answered, expecting to be greeted by her cheeky, laughing little girl, making fun of her grandad's singing.
"What she had instead was a phone call full of distress as there had been a crash."
A witness had pulled up to a queue on the Elme Hall roundabout around 12.50pm when he saw a car approaching from behind at speed.
He tapped on his brake lights as a warning but the car continued.
"I got very concerned he was going to hit me, but instead he pulled out into the opposite side of the road to overtake the queue," he said.
"He hit a car towing a caravan head-on and left the road completely."
The Volvo towing a caravan contained two grandparents, their five-year-old granddaughter and their dog.
The caravan flipped to the other side of the road and Lester's Nissan ended up in a ditch. Witnesses saw him scramble to the other side of the ditch and run away.
The grandfather who was driving the car said there was nothing he could do to avoid the collision.
"I remember a dreadful noise, smell and my granddaughter screaming," he said.
His wife had a broken sternum and had to be cut free from the car by firefighters, while the girl had suffered a "gaping wound" to her forehead.
Miss O'Donovan said she had taken up a interest in Harry Potter to come to terms with the scar on her forehead.
She added Lester has an "unattractive record" of 25 convictions for 47 offences. They include failing to report an accident, failing to stop, driving without due care and attention and driving without a licence or insurance.
Lester, 24, had been banned from driving on March 13 after an earlier incident.
On February 23 police were on route to reports of a rave at a rural village in Huntingdonshire when they spotted Lester driving a Ford Ka "swerve across a dual carriageway".
After a chase police deployed a stinger and Lester ran from the car, hiding a nearby shed.
When he was arrested he told officers: "Not bad driving a Ford Ka at 110mph".
The girl's father read an emotional victim impact statement to the court.
"As parents you have the ultimate responsibility to protect your child," he said. "We failed. To see her totally unable to process what had happened to her was totally heartbreaking.
"She was just a five-year-old girl who went to the seaside with her grandparents and she returned home with the most horrific scar.
"She wants to know why this happened to her. She wants to know why the man ran off, why he isn't in jail yet.
"She asks: 'Is the man going to hurt other people now?'
"She had no idea of the bad in the world or horrible things people can do to each other before this. We have had to break her innocent view of the world. Her innocence has been shattered.
"I felt I let her down by not being there to protect my little girl when she needed me."
Lester was eventually identified by the man who sold him the Nissan, and by DNA left on the airbag which deployed in the crash.
In mitigation, Lester's counsel said he doesn't intend to get in a car again.
And before he was taken to the cells, Lester told the family: "I am very sorry."
Judge David Goodin said his driving had been "catastrophic" and it would be difficult to find a more serious example of poor driving.
"You conducted a lunatic manoeuvre, bringing yourself into the path of the vehicle being driven by the girl's grandpa," he said.
"I must punish you for your appalling and dangerous conduct. It is plain you have no regard for safety or the law."
Lester, of Sefton Avenue, Wisbech, was jailed for three years for the incident on May 29, and 12 months for the incident on February 23.
He was banned from driving for seven years and must take an extended test before he is allowed to drive.