Suspended sentence for reckless driver who caused catastrophic injuries to Harrogate man while high on drugs

A driver high on ketamine and cannabis crashed his Mercedes head-on into an oncoming vehicle after he lost control on a sharp bend in Harrogate, causing catastrophic injuries to the victim.

Thursday, 18th February 2021, 2:44 pm
Updated Thursday, 18th February 2021, 2:48 pm

Harry Simmons’ silver Mercedes first careened out of control on a left-hand bend where another motorist had to swerve out of the way, narrowly avoiding a collision and merely being left with a scratch to his van, York Crown Court heard.

But then Simmons, 22, took another sharp bend in the middle of the road and crashed head-on into a Nissan car whose driver was trapped inside the vehicle by his feet.

Harry Simmons, 22, was sentenced at York Crown Court.

“(The named victim) had to be extracted from the vehicle by the fire service because his feet were trapped,” said prosecutor Andrew Finlay.

When police arrived, Simmons was still sat inside his vehicle. One of the officers, noting that Simmons appeared “incoherent”, asked him if he had been drinking.

Simmons was given a breath test, but it came back negative for alcohol. However, a roadside drug test showed he was positive for cannabis and ketamine and over the specified limit for the latter.

He admitted he had taken ketamine at about noon that day – about three hours before the horror crash in Penny Pot Lane on May 14.

Police found just over a gram of ketamine inside the car and a “large” bag of cannabis.

The male victim, from the Harrogate area, was taken to Leeds General Infirmary after suffering a broken collarbone, fractured ribs and chest and back injuries.

He had to be kept in hospital for seven days. He was discharged on May 21 but was in such pain when he returned home, he had to be readmitted to hospital for an operation on his neck.

When quizzed by cops, Simmons said he “could not recall why the collision occurred”, added Mr Finlay.

However, he admitted four charges including causing serious injury by dangerous driving, two counts of possessing a Class B drug and driving a motor vehicle while unfit through drugs.

Simmons, originally from Harrogate but now living in Suffolk, appeared for sentence on Monday.

In a statement read out in court, the victim said he was still undergoing treatment at Harrogate District Hospital and was now using a walking stick because he was having problems standing. He was unable to perform basic household tasks and his daughter-in-law had to do his shopping for him.

He had suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder following the accident and he had lodged a compensation claim with an insurance company.

Philip Morris, mitigating, said that Simmons, of Springhurst Close, Ipswich, had no previous convictions.

Simmons had resigned from his post with a company in Ipswich but had since found new work with a recycling firm, which had provided a glowing character reference.

Judge Simon Hickey said despite the seriousness of the incident, he could avoid “sending a young man to prison” because Simmons was a hard-working man with no previous offences.

He said although Simmons had been “dabbling in drugs, luckily you didn’t kill anybody”, albeit the victim had been “very seriously injured”.

“It’s had long-lasting physical, emotional and psychological damage upon (the victim),” added Mr Hickey.

“He says it has changed his life.”

However, he said that Simmons would lose his job and home if he were jailed and his driving record showed he wasn’t ordinarily a man who drove recklessly.

The judge said because it was Simmons’s “first brush with the law” and character references showed it was “out of character”, he could step back from an immediate prison sentence.

The 16-month jail term was suspended for 18 months and includes 80 hours’ unpaid work, along with a five-day rehabilitation course to address the defendant’s drug use.

Simmons was also fined £100 and banned from driving for two years. He was also made to pay a £156 victim surcharge.