A MAN has admitted responsibility for a “catastrophic accident”, crashing a stolen car from a flyover onto the A1(M) below, seriously injuring a passenger.

Hugh Raymond Holmes was warned he is facing, “a significant custodial sentence”, after today (Monday February 21) pleading guilty to four charges relating to the incident, which brought traffic to a standstill on the A1(M), on Friday January 21.

Durham Crown Court heard it led to his female passenger fearing she would lose her life and brought traffic chaos, with the closure of the A1(M) for the rest of the day, while police investigated the accident, cleared the debris and repaired the smashed barrier.

Appearing at a plea hearing at the court, via video link from Durham Prison, where he is on remand, the 32-year-old defendant, of Tudhoe Moor, Spennymoor, who was also injured in the incident, admitted aggravated vehicle taking, causing serious injury by dangerous driving, plus failing to provide a breath specimen and driving without insurance.

The charges stem from a collision, when the red Vauxhall Astra, said to have been taken by Holmes without the owner’s permission about 90-minutes earlier that day, was involved in a collision with another vehicle on the A177 flyover, at junction 61 of the A1(M), on the Bowburn Interchange roundabout.

It then crashed through the safety barriers, plunging from the roundabout and landing on its roof, into the central reservation of the motorway below.

Emergency services immediately responded to calls, at approximately 10.35am and Holmes' passenger, in her mid-40s, was airlifted to hospital, initially in a critical condition.

Read more: Man charged after A1 accident which left woman in critical condition

The court heard she is now left using a wheelchair, but Recorder Ata Dallas said a full updated medical report on the victim’s prognosis should be presented to the sentencing hearing, next month.

Robin Patton, prosecuting, told the court: “I think she’s grateful to be alive.”

Recorder  Dallas said: "This was a catastrophic accident in which the defendant is lucky to have survived, himself."

Addressing Holmes, Recorder Dallas told him: “Your guilty pleas today will result in appropriate credit being given to you when you come to be sentenced.

“That can’t be today because further evidence needs to be assembled before that hearing.

“Your sentence will be on March 23 and, in the meantime, you will remain remanded in custody.

“You will have been advised, and you must be aware, that a significant custodial sentence will follow.”

The court was told there was no need to impose an interim driving disqualification on the defendant, who is banned from the roads as it stands, already.

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