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Motorist sentenced for causing life-changing injuries to passenger

James Atkinson

A YOUNG motorist who caused life-changing injuries to a passenger in a horror crash on a rural north Cumbria road has been sentenced.

James Atkinson was behind the wheel of a Vauxhall Corsa in convoy with a Mini driven by a fellow teen on the afternoon of October 15 in 2017. After being overtaken by the Mini driver, Atkinson, now 20, performed his own overtake on the C2049 close to Castle Sowerby chapel as another vehicle emerged from a junction ahead.

As Atkinson pulled to the nearside, his car struck struck the front of the Mini, spinning and flipping into the nearside verge, and coming to rest upside down.

One passenger who suffered minor injuries climbed out of a window. But Atkinson and rear seat passenger Alex Raphael were seriously injured, trapped and had to be cut free by firefighters.

Mr Raphael’s injuries included bruising to the brain, multiple spinal fractures and a femur fracture. He suffered partial paralysis for 10 days, wore a halo support for three months and has a metal rod in his leg for life. Detailing the “massive” life-changing impact in the aftermath, Mr Raphael had said: “The incident has basically put my education and job prospects on hold for four to five years.”

Atkinson, who admitted causing serious injury by dangerous driving, was left in a coma following the crash, suffered a traumatic brain injury and had been described by a consultant paramedic as an “unexpected survivor”. He’d only been driving “for a few weeks” beforehand, and was said to be “genuinely sorry”.

In view of Atkinson’s previous good character, no offences since and a lengthy court court case delay, Judge Peter Davies suspended a 14-month jail term for two years. Atkinson, of Millhouse, near Hesket-new-Market, must also complete a six-month night-time curfew and a two-year driving ban.

“This is a terrible case,” Judge Davies told him. “You caused extremely life-changing injury to that boy, Alex Raphael. You’ll have to remember that for the rest of your life.”

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