A taxi driver who caused a head-on collision when he turned round to speak to his passenger left three people injured.

Peter MacGrathin was taking a client to hospital when he caused the crash on Burtree Lane, Darlington, at the beginning of this year.

The 41-year-old’s lapse of concentration resulted in his Skoda Octovia smashing into a car travelling in the opposite direction.

Teesside Crown Court heard how the passenger in the other car involved in the crash suffered broken ribs, sternum, left arm, left shoulder and fracture to her spine.

Philip Morley, prosecuting, said earlier in the journey MacGrathin had clipped two kerbs when he was taking his passenger to hospital.

He said: “He went along Burtree Lane at 57mph, which is under the speed limit, there was a bend in the road and he started to drift across the road.

“He turned to speak to his passenger while there was another vehicle coming in the opposite direction and a head-on collision was caused.”

Mr Morley told the court that the taxi driver’s passenger suffered fractures to her ribs and sternum while the driver of the other car suffered bruising.

MacGrathin, of Cockton Hill Road, Bishop Auckland, pleaded guilty to driving without due care and attention and causing injury through careless driving.

The defendant represented himself in court telling the judge that he was unable to afford a lawyer after losing his job following the crash on January 6.

Judge Paul Watson KC, the Recorder of Middlesbrough, gave the defendant the opportunity to delay sentencing until he could find a lawyer but MacGrathin declined as he was keen to hear his fate.

The judge said: “Your pre-sentence report shows that you had taken full responsibility for what happened and you showed genuine remorse.

“You really couldn’t explain the driving which led to this accident but you had a lot on your mind at the time.

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“It has clearly had an affect on you as well. When talking about it you became upset at the harm you had caused.

“You have already lost your job which has provided some punishment for what happened.”

MacGrathin was sentenced to 21 weeks in custody suspended for 12 months as well as being ordered to attend 20 rehabilitation activity days and carry our 150 hours of unpaid work.

The taxi driver's crash also resulted in him being banned from driving for 12 months and he was told he must take an extended test to regain his licence.