Man jailed after leaving Claverdon woman with devastating injuries in high-speed crash

Matthew Stark has been jailed
Matthew Stark has been jailed

A Claverdon woman suffered devastating injuries when a speeding car ploughed into the side of her as she pulled off her driveway.

Adrienne Cave's Mini Clubman, in which one of her daughters was also badly hurt, was shunted 38 metres down the road by a Mercedes driven by a young man who had overslept and was late for college.

Although Mrs Cave survived the crash despite her injuries, she now has speech problems as a result, which has seriously affected her job as a paediatric speech therapist.

And Matthew Stark was jailed for two years by a judge at Warwick Crown Court after pleading guilty to two charges of causing serious injury by dangerous driving.

Stark, 20, of Henley Road, Claverdon, just 400 yards from the scene of the crash, was also banned for four years and will have to take a re-test before getting his licence back.

Prosecutor Daniel Wright said that at around 7.30am on Tuesday October 31 last year Stark was driving along Henley Road from his home towards Henley-in-Arden, and was doing ‘well in excess of the speed limit’ as it changed from 40mph to 50.

At the same time Adrienne Cave began to pull out of the drive of her home in Henley Road in her Mini Clubman, with her daughter Naomi in the passenger seat.

Stark’s Mercedes, which was estimated to have been doing 68mph at the moment of impact, ploughed into the side of the Mini, shunting it 38 metres down the road and ‘causing massive intrusion into the driver’s compartment.’

Mother-of-two Mrs Cave suffered severe life-threatening head and internal injuries, and after finally being freed from the wreckage she was airlifted to hospital where she was not anticipated to survive, her husband Tony told the court.

She was kept in hospital for four months, spending the first 23 days in intensive care and the next 24 on a neuro-science ward, and had a halo cage attached to her head for 12 weeks.

Since her discharge, Mrs Cave, who is in her 40s, has had to attend hospital on no fewer than 68 occasions – and was not at court for the hearing because she was undergoing yet another scan.

Judge Sylvia de Bertodano observed that throat and neck injuries mean that although Mrs Cave can manage to walk a mile on the flat without speaking, if she talks that is restricted to just 30 yards – and that is likely to be permanent.

Her balance, mobility, eyesight, eating, swallowing and, significantly for Mrs Cave, who worked as a paediatric speech and language therapist, her speaking ability, have all been affected.

Mr Wright added that 17-year-old Naomi had injuries which included a fractured pelvis and a punctured lung, and has made a full physical recovery.

Tom Gent, defending, said Stark had overslept by about half an hour that morning, as a result of which he had left home 10 minutes late for his drive to college in Birmingham, which would normally take him about 40 minutes.

“He accepts that in the approach to the point of impact he drove at more than 20mph over the speed limit, which means he must have been driving at 70.

“He braked, as best he can recall, a split second before impact. He accepts that, driving at that speed, the available view he had was not sufficient for him to take avoiding action.

“Of course it has had terrible consequences which will be far-reaching and will live with him for ever.

“He is a hard-working young man of good background, a thoughtful and kind young man who has shown a real talent for engineering. He is full of remorse, and has written a heartfelt letter to Mrs Cave.

“I submit it is just possible to take a merciful course and impose a sentence which does not result in him losing his liberty immediately."

But jailing Stark, Judge de Bertodano told him: “You left home running late, having overslept, for your college course, and you were travelling in your blue Mercedes towards Henley-in-Arden driving well in excess of the speed limit.

“At the same time, leaving her home was Adrienne Cave with her daughter. They turned right onto the same road, and because you were driving so fast, they didn’t see you.

“You weren’t able to stop when you saw them in your path, and you collided into the side of their small car with such force that you pushed it 38 metres down the road.

“As a result Adrienne Cave suffered very serious injuries – and it is by the merest good fortune and the very hard work of the emergency services that she wasn’t killed.

“This is a lady who was a highly specialist paediatric speech and language therapist and, more importantly, the mother of two daughters and a loving wife.

“Out of nowhere, the lynchpin of their family was swept away into a new life of hospital treatment and therapy. Her most significant injuries are to her vocal cords and her breathing. It is impossible to imagine she will ever fully recover.

“You are a young man of positive good character, and these cases are the most tragic in many ways that I deal with, because they involve people who went out that morning without any intention to harm anyone.”