Drunk driver jailed after leaving woman with catastrophic injuries in head-on crash


A drunk driver who left a woman with catastrophic injuries in a head crash was sentenced to 30 months in prison on Monday.

Sentencing Peter Woods, 35, to serve half his sentence in prison and the rest on license, Judge Paul Ramsey QC said it was clear from the victim’s ‘eloquent and poignant’ statement the extent of the devastation she and her family had faced but that “the Christmas family are not the first to be visited by worry and carnage on our roads and sadly they will not be the last”.

“Indeed this very morning we heard news of a collision in Belfast where two men lost their lives,” the judge at Newry Crown Court said.


Drunk driver Peter Woods who was jailed today after causing a head crash which left the victim catastrophically injured.

Drunk driver Peter Woods who was jailed today after causing a head crash which left the victim catastrophically injured.

At an earlier hearing, Woods, of Ardcarn Park in Newry, pleaded guilty to causing grievous bodily harm to Nicole Christmas by reckless driving with excess of alcohol and driving without insurance on January 13, 2020.

Summarizing the facts of the case during his sentencing speech on Monday, Judge Ramsey pointed out that just before 9.30am that morning the victim was driving his black Saab along the Fathom line in the city when confronted to a Mercedes car coming from the opposite direction. .

The Mercedes crossed the white line but with a wall to her left, Mrs Christmas “had nowhere to go and knew an impact was inevitable”, the judge said adding that with her airbags deployed and a smell of smoked in the car, she “screamed for help”.

A number of people, including the accused, stopped to help her and eventually got her out of the passenger door, but she was in ‘excruciating pain in her pelvic area’ and on hearing Woods repeatedly apologizing at the scene, “she became understandably angry and was yelling ‘how dare you do this to me and my family’!”

Taken to hospital, tests revealed that Ms Christmas had suffered a fractured pelvis and a double fracture of her spine which forced her to spend eight weeks in hospital and although the incident dates back two years , she is still receiving treatment as she is “slowly but surely rebuilding her life.

Judge Ramsey said Woods was given a breath test at the scene where he read just over double the legal drinking limit of 35, but added that for the sentencing exercise he took the lower probative reading of 52.

Arrested and questioned, Woods said he had been drinking the night before, had only slept four hours without breakfast and only got the Mercedes the night before, agreed that he had no driver’s license or insurance to drive the car which had two bald tires.

He told police that immediately after the impact he “saw smoke coming from the driver’s side of the Saab, so he got out and tried to get the injured part out immediately.”

The judge said that while he accepted that Woods’ remorse and regret were sincere and had a clear case, in cases such as this “personal attenuation carries little weight” when put in balance and where it is “clear that a deterrent sentence is necessary”. ”

“He is someone who will have to bear for the rest of his life the knowledge and the shame that he alone is responsible for the devastation of the victim and he admitted his guilt in open court,” the judge said.

In addition to the prison sentence, Woods was also banned from driving for two years.

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