Drunk driver had 10 double whiskys before crashing head-on into bus in Wrexham

Reporter:

Staff reporter (Leader Live)

A young man drank 10 double whisky and cokes, refused a taxi home, and jumped into his car.

Michael Berry hit a wall in the car park of the Red Lion pub in Coedpoeth before driving off at speed, demolishing a traffic island and crashing head on into an on-coming bus.

Berry, 21, suffered very serious injuries himself in the collision, but he was told at Mold Crown Court that it was fortunate no one else had been hurt or killed.

Judge Rhys Rowlands jailed Berry, who at the time of the crash in June 2015 lived at the Ruthin Road caravan site at Wrexham, for eight months.

He was banned from driving for 28 months and ordered to take an extended retest.

The judge told him that he got behind the wheel when he was “very, very drunk” and drove off in a very dangerous fashion.

He collided with a bus a short distance down the A525 at Coedpoeth and sustained very serious injuries.

But on his release from hospital he “made himself scarce” and helped by his family avoided the police for a long time.

He was being sentenced two years after the collision – and was 19 at the time.

The defendant, said Judge Rowlands, was so drunk at the public house a barmaid refused to serve him and he was seen to be physically ill into his own hands.

A taxi had been ordered for him, but he was determined to drive when badly affected by drink.

Judge Rowlands said that he himself was very familiar with the road and there was a large residential area and a playing field nearby.

Prosecuting barrister Karl Scholz said Berry had been in the Red Lion in Coedpoeth and had drunk a large amount of alcohol.

He refused a taxi ride and CCTV showed him struggling to stand up.

Berry could be seen hitting a wall in the pub car park with his black Volkswagen Passat before driving along Heol Maelor shortly before 5pm on Saturday, June 6, 2015.

He demolished a traffic island with bollards being thrown into the air and struck a bus, which was carrying 12 or 13 passengers. Fortunately, no one on the bus was injured.

The bus driver had pulled over as much as he could to try to avoid a collision, to no avail.

Berry was in three different hospitals with a number of injuries, including a fractured aorta, but on his release police could not find him.

His mother and his wife said he was in London and they had no contact with him. But he was found in Manchester in April and arrested.

Berry, a learner driver, admitted a driving licence offence, no insurance and failing to provide a breath specimen.

Insurance had been taken out in a fictitious name and the payments came from the bank account of a person who knew nothing about it.

Defending barrister Philip Clemo said that his client had been told that his father was terminally ill and was under the impression he had only a few months to live.

It was his desire to be with his father in his last days.

Mr Clemo said that sadly, the father had recently died, when his client was back in custody, and he was very sad that he had been unable to say goodbye to him properly.

It had been a very serious collision and by the grace of God no one but himself had been hurt.

He suffered injuries to the aorta, liver, and head, a broken nose, and medics had to break his ribs to get to his heart for treatment.

The defendant would need a new stent in his heart every 10 to 15 years and the injuries would affect the rest of his life.

A paramedic who attended the scene had described the injuries as probably life-changing and that had proved to be the case.

He suffered nightmares and flashbacks after what had happened.

Photographs of the car, particularly the blood on the airbag, the driver’s seat and footwell, made grim viewing.

Berry was a father of two young children aged two and five months, prison had scared him and he was terrified of going back.

Mr Clemo suggested a suspended prison sentence, but the judge said that it was so serious that it had to be immediate custody.

See full story in the Leader

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