Jail for Leeds driver who ruined a life

DEVASTATING INJURIES: Grant Smith after the crash which left him with wheelchair bound and brain damaged.
DEVASTATING INJURIES: Grant Smith after the crash which left him with wheelchair bound and brain damaged.
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A serial driving offender with more than 50 convictions left a young man wheelchair bound and brain damaged after crashing his car in a high speed police chase.

Grant Smith, 20, was left with devastating injuries after the collision caused by Anthony Stratton.

Stratton – described as having an “utterly appalling” driving record – was jailed for 16 months after admitting dangerous driving.

He was told it was as serious a case of dangerous driving as it was possible to see.

But it was not possible to jail him for longer as the offence carries a maximum sentence of two years – and the judge had to give him credit for his guilty plea.

Stratton was also banned from driving for 10 years.

Mr Smith’s mother Deborah called for changes in the law to imprison prolific offenders for longer and keep them off the road permanently.

She said: “I can’t believe he was allowed behind the wheel in the first place with that record.

“The length of the sentence for this offence is wrong. It should reflect the impact it has had on the victims.

“What worries me now is that he will get behind the wheel again when he is 40 and kill a young child because he clearly has no regard for the law or people’s safety.”

Leeds Crown Court heard how Stratton, of Gamble Hill Vale, Bramley, has 18 convictions for driving while disqualified and 19 for driving without insurance.

He had recently been released from prison on licence for robbery at the time of the incident, on January 6 this year.

Claire Larton, prosecuting, said Mr Smith and two other men were passengers in the Vauxhall Astra being driven by Stratton on Fairfield Crescent, Bramley, at 6.40pm, when a police car signalled for the vehicle to stop.

Stratton drove at speeds of 50mph through a housing estate before losing control of the vehicle and hitting a parked car.

Mr Smith was unconscious and bleeding from the mouth when police and paramedics arrived.

Mrs Larton said he has been in a wheelchair since the incident and is having physiotherapy to learn to walk. Brain injuries have left him “childlike” and confused.

The court heard Stratton had also served a jail term after he attempted to flee police and crashed into a police van.

Michael Miller, for Stratton, said: “This was clearly a senseless piece of driving which has had horrendous consequences.”

He said Stratton was genuinely remorseful for his actions.

Mr Miller said the vehicle belonged to Stratton’s friend but, this time, he was insured to drive it.

Recorder Alistair McDonald said: “I am just astonished that anyone with this record of offending could have got insurance without paying £1m for it.”

Jailing him, the recorder told him that he had ruined Mr Smith’s life and no sentence he could impose could ever make up for what had happened.

He said he was duty bound to impose the sentence as the maximum length had been set by parliament.

He added: “This is as serious a case of dangerous driving as it is possible to have.”

Mr Smith’s family were also praised for the dignity they had shown.

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