West Yorkshire driver leaves friend paralysed after airborne high-speed smash in Bentley borrowed for wedding

A driver lost control of a Bentley and ploughed into a roundabout as he drove his wife and friends home from a wedding, leaving one of them paralysed.

By The Newsroom
Wednesday, 14th June 2017, 4:23 pm
Updated Thursday, 15th June 2017, 9:38 am
Green Lane in Featherstone.
Green Lane in Featherstone.

A court heard the high-powered luxury vehicle went airborne as Lee Johnson struck a kerb as he drove at excessive speed.

Johnson’s friend, Craig Derbyshire, suffered major spinal injuries and is likely to be wheelchair-bound for the rest of his life.

Mr Derbyshire’s partner, Nicola Schofield, and Johnson’s wife Shauna were also badly hurt in the incident.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

Leeds Crown Court heard Mr Derbyshire had borrowed the Bentley from his boss to attend the wedding at King’s Croft Hotel, Featherstone.

The incident happened when Mr Derbyshire offered Johnson, a life-long friend, a lift as he waited for a taxi with his wife.

Robert Galley, prosecuting, said Johnson then asked his friend if he could drive the vehicle.

The collision took place on Green Lane, Featherstone, in the early hours October 1 last year.

The Bentley travelled through the air twice before hitting the roundabout.

Johnson, who was not insured to drive, was breathalysed at the scene but refused to provide a blood sample at hospital.

Mr Galley said: “The defendant said he was not used to an automatic and misapplied the brake with his left foot, causing the vehicle to go in to a spin and losing control.”

The prosecutor said experts concluded that the incident had been caused by the vehicle being driven at excessive speed

Tyre marks at the scene indicated that the vehicle was travelling between between 81mph and 111mph along the 40mph stretch of road.

The two women, who were back seat passengers, were badly hurt but did not suffer permanent injuries.

Johnson, of Featherstone Drive, Featherstone, pleaded guilty to three offences of causing serious injury by dangerous driving, failing to provide a blood sample and driving without insurance.

He was jailed for 12 months.

Stephen Wellford, mitigating, said Mr Derbyshire had written a letter to the court stating that he he did not want Johnson to go to prison.

Mr Wellford said: “He would see it as a tragedy if he was jailed.”

The court heard the two men are still friends.

The lawyer added: “Everybody speaks highly of him and are supportive of him.”

Mr Wellford said Johnson had no previous convictions.

Judge Mushtaq Khokhar said the offences were too serious to impose anything other then an immediate prison sentence.

He said: “You were simply travelling too fast.

“The consequences are unimaginable if there were other road users.

“You will forever be reminded of this particular incident when you see Mr Derbyshire.

“I can tell you that in ordinary circumstances, if it wasn’t your friends, or in one case your wife, the starting point (for a prison sentence) would have been far higher.”