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Dangerous driver who fatally impaled passenger after smashing into fence convicted

A dangerous driver who fatally impaled a passenger after smashing a car into a garden fence has been convicted.

Christopher Sanderson, 34, was behind the wheel when the Vauxhall careered off the road and ploughed into the wooden fence of a Philadelphia property on the evening of February 16.

The sheer force of the collision saw the dark-coloured Zafira flatten 20 metres of fence belonging to an address on Kingston Mews.

Three panels of the fence post pierced the dashboard of the car itself as a result of the impact – one of which impaled back-seat passenger Michael Armstrong, 35, who suffered serious injuries to his stomach.

Unaware of the extent of his passenger’s injuries, Sanderson then reversed the car out of the garden and drove almost a mile before stopping on Ross Lea, Shiney Row.

Michael Armstrong

An injured Michael and two other back-seat passengers got out of the vehicle. They then called an ambulance after noticing the injuries to Michael.

Sadly, he died days later in hospital.

An investigation was launched and after Sanderson was identified as the likely driver, police traced him in the Carlisle area and subsequently arrested him and brought him into custody.

On Monday (October 14) at Newcastle Crown Court, Sanderson, of Claremont Drive, Shiney Row, admitted a string of motoring offences including causing death by careless driving, failure to report an accident and causing death by driving while uninsured.

He is due to be sentenced in December.

PC Steven Malt, of Northumbria Police’s motor patrols department, said: “This was a devastating incident that resulted in Michael’s death and our thoughts remain with his family and friends at this tragic time.

“Sanderson was behind the wheel on the night in question and was driving five passengers home when the vehicle struck the kerb and left the road.

“It then continued to collide with a garden fence with such force that it flattened the entire structure, with three of the panels piercing through the dashboard and fatally injuring Michael who was sat in the middle seat in the rear.

“The car was then driven almost a mile away from the initial collision before the true severity of Michael’s injuries became apparent.

“Despite knowing that he was the driver on the night in question, Sanderson did not come forward and report the collision to police. He was located and arrested in Cumbria four days after the incident.

“Our roads can be a very dangerous place when they are not used with due care or attention. Anybody who gets behind the wheel of a car should understand the potentially fatal and life-changing impact that their actions can have on themselves and others, as this case has shown.

“Sanderson must now face the consequences of his actions.”

Upon interview, Sanderson confirmed he had driven home after Michael and two other passengers got out of the vehicle on Ross Lea but said he was unaware that anybody had suffered serious injury.

He also denied that he had driven in a dangerous or careless manner in the lead-up to the collision.

However, on the day of his scheduled trial at Newcastle Crown Court on Monday, Sanderson pleaded guilty to causing death by careless driving, causing death by driving while uninsured, failing to report an accident, failing to stop after an accident, dangerous driving and having no insurance.

He is due to be sentenced on December 11.

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