A FARMHAND who left a trail of destruction after crashing his car four times -injuring five people along the way - has been jailed for dangerous driving.
Peter Tonie Stafford, 44, hit one victim who tried to stop him fleeing in his car from one of the first accidents, catapulting the man into the air, Durham Crown Court was told.
Among those injured in the later smashes were an engaged couple whose planned dream honeymoon was ruined by Stafford’s rampage along the roads of Willington, near Crook, County Durham, on July 2 last year.
Sentencing Stafford to eight months in jail, Recorder Ian Atherton said: “This is about as bad an episode of dangerous driving as this court has heard - so much so that a psychiatric report had to be obtained to see whether you had a dangerous propensity behind the wheel of a car.
“Fortunately does not seem to be the case – it appears to be a one-off incident of complete madness.”
Martin Towers, prosecuting, said the first collision happened when Stafford jumped a red traffic light and his VW Golf hit railings along the A690.
He later drove on the wrong side of the road at speed in Commercial Street, where an oncoming Audi was unable to avoid a collision.
Realising Stafford was attempting to get away, the Audi driver signalled to other traffic to block his way. But he was hit from behind by Stafford’s VW and was thrown through the air onto a footpath.
The man managed to get to his feet to see the Golf “disappearing in cloud of steam and smoke”. His partner was also hurt in the crash.
Stafford then failed to stop at a temporary traffic light as he turned right into Stony Bank and hit a Rover coming from the opposite direction.
He continued across a bridge over the River Wear and lost control of his car.
A couple coming down Cobey’s Carr Lane in a Skoda were unable to avoid a collision and Stafford's car careered off ther road and finally came to a rest down an embankment.
One eyewitness described Stafford’s teenage son shouting “dad get out of the car”, before both emerged from the same door.
Stafford, who was bleeding from a head injury, was “staggering all over the place” and “appeared to be drunk.”
However, Mr Towers said because Stafford fled the scene, it could not be established whether or not he was intoxicated.
Chris Morrison, mitigating, said his client apologised profusely to the victims and accepted he must answer for his actions.
Stafford of Wear View, Byers Green, Spennymoor, who pleaded guilty to dangerous driving, was also disqualified for driving for 18 months and ordered to sit an extended driving test at the end of the ban.