A MAN caused a head-on collision leaving himself and the other driver with life-changing injuries, following, “a moment of madness”.

Adam Mark Heron narrowly escaped an immediate prison sentence at Durham Crown Court, over his driving on Pit House Lane, a tree-lined, unlit road at Leamside, near West Rainton, on January 9 last year.

His Audi A3 was travelling southbound at up to 50-miles per hour in darkness at 5.30pm, when, he tried to overtake a Peugeot 407 car on a left-hand bend.

Seeing the headlights of an oncoming Renault Megane he tried to brake, but could not pull back in, as the Peugeot inside was also braking.

Jonathan Walker, prosecuting, said on impact there was a loud bang and the Megane’s air bag inflated.

The driver thought she was going to die as she could not open the door and feared the car would ignite.

On release she was taken from the scene on a spinal board, suffering breathing difficulties.

Mr Walker said she suffered three fractures in her lower spine and nerve damage affecting movement in one leg, leaving her using a wheelchair for some time.

She still receives physiotherapy and walks with a limp.

Mr Walker said “magnanimously” she does not want Heron to be jailed.

Heron, 36, of Melbeck Court, Great Lumley, near Chester-le-Street, admitted causing serious injury by dangerous driving.

Martin Towers, mitigating, said the defendant asked him to pass on his apologies to the victim, “whose life he has affected.”

Mr Towers said Heron, too, has suffered long-term consequences, with his injuries “mirroring, to some extent” those of the victim, as he received rib damage and multiple leg fractures which still require surgery.

“This was an isolated incident, a moment of madness, but an uncharacteristic piece of driving as there’s no suggestion he flagrantly disregards traffic laws.”

Mr Towers said Heron has been unable to run his landscape design and arboriculture business, but has a sales job offer.

Judge Simon Hickey said having regard to sentencing guidelines and Court of Appeal rulings in similar cases, as well as Heron’s own previous good character, he could suspend sentence.

He imposed a nine-month prison sentence, suspended for a year, and banned Heron from driving for two years.