Poole Man Jailed Over 'Life-Changing' Crash

A Poole man has been jailed for 32 months for causing a crash which left a woman with life-changing injuries.

Jack Balding, 26, was handed the jail term today (Friday 16 October) at Bournemouth Crown Court after pleading guilty to causing serious injury by dangerous driving and driving when alcohol level above limit at the same court on Monday 21 September 2015.

Balding received a 32-month prison term for causing serious injury by dangerous driving and a four-month jail term for drink driving to run concurrently. He was also disqualified from driving for four years and told that he would have to take an extended re-test before receiving his licence back.

The court heard that at 10.17pm on Sunday 22 February 2015, Balding was driving his blue Peugeot 206 along Wimborne Road in Poole toward Fleetsbridge when he lost control and left the road.

The car mounted the pavement and struck pedestrian Laura Watson before flipping over and coming to rest through the fence of a house.

Laura, now aged 29 and from Poole, was thrown around 30 meters into some bushes.

She suffered a life-changing brain injury, including several skull fractures and bleeds on her brain, and had to undergo surgery to release the swelling on her brain. She is out of hospital now and receiving treatment in a rehabilitation centre. Laura was also left with a broken left leg and ankle.

The court heard that Balding was found to be over the drink drive limit, with 172mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood - more than double the 80mg limit.

When interviewed, Balding told officers he had finished work and driven to a friend's house before going to a pub in Ashley Cross and drinking five pints of lager. He said he lost control of the car as he drove home but did not believe he was over the drink drive limit.

Inspector Matt Butler, of Dorset Police's Traffic Unit, said:

"Jack Balding made the conscious decision that night to get behind the wheel of his car after consuming a large amount of alcohol. Sadly his actions caused a young woman devastating injuries.

"Yet again this case illustrates just how dangerous drinking and driving is and I would urge everyone not to get behind the wheel after drinking any alcohol at all. Even one drink can impair someone's ability to drive. Please don't do it - it is just simply not worth the risk."

Speaking after the case, Laura's mum Lisa Watson said:

"Immediately after the accident we were warned to prepare for the worst and the doctors said it was a miracle that she survived through her serious injuries.
"Laura gets very tearful that she has suffered because of him. She has spent eight months in hospital and is expecting to spend at least another three months in the rehabilitation centre. Nearly a year of her life has been spent battling the injuries Balding caused.
"The collision has been traumatic for the whole family. Laura was innocently walking along the pavement on her way to work that night. She phoned me before she was hit to say she had got off the bus - within nine minutes of that phone call her life had completely changed.

"Laura has the life sentence not him."

"I would urge everyone just to think before they get behind the wheel after drinking. Please don't do it. Laura's life has changed forever because Balding decided to drive rather than getting a taxi home."
If you suspect someone is drink or drug driving, call Dorset Police on 101, or 999 immediately. Calls can also be made to the Crimestoppers charity anonymously on 0800 555111.

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