Drunk car thief jockey Trevor Woodside jailed after 87mph crash into vehicle driven by woman he was meeting for a first date
A Co Down jockey has been jailed for 21 months after he drove a stolen car at up to 87 mph head-on into a vehicle being driven by a woman he was due to meet on their first date.
Trevor Woodside (33), was told by a judge at Downpatrick Crown Court, sitting in Newtownards, that it was an "appalling piece of driving'' which had left his victim with "significant long term injuries'' both physically and psychologically.
Woodside, of Castleview, Killyleagh, had pleaded guilty to a total of four charges at Downpatrick Court of causing grievous bodily injury by dangerous driving, aggravated vehicle taking, driving with excess alcohol and having no insurance.
Sam Magee, prosecuting, told the court that the accident happened on March 30, 2014 when Woodside was due to meet the woman for "their first date''.
He said the defendant had taken a Mercedes car belonging to his employer without his permission and had been drinking earlier in the day.
The court heard the woman was travelling from Newry to Crossgar for their first date and while en route she received a number calls and text messages from Woodside asking about her location.
She asked him had he been drinking and he replied 'No'.
Judge Piers Grant was told that the woman believed he was drinking and told him to "catch himself on'' as she was aware he had no licence to drive a car.
Mr Magee said the woman was driving along the Ballydougan Road outside Downpatrick in her Volkswagen Golf car travelling at a speed of 45 mph in a 60 mph zone.
"As she approached the junction with the Drumcullen Road near Downpatrick race course, suddenly a black Mercedes car came at her at speed after having crossed on to her side of the road.
"One witness described that the black Mercedes had passed their vehicle 'like a rocket'.
"The woman swerved in an attempt to avoid a collison, but to no avail.''
Following the head-on collision, the court heard, the Volkswagen Golf spun around on the road before careering down a bank and into trees. Such was the force of the impact that the engine of VW Golf car was dislodged onto the road.
Witnesses said that after impact the Mercedes car "spun around before coming to rest in the grass verge''.
"The driver of the vehicle was Trevor Woodside and the female driver of the Volkswagen had been on her way to meet him. He was conscious and was complaining of a back injury. He had been drinking and he had no licence,'' said Mr Magee.
"The driver of the Volkswagen Golf was knocked unconscious. She was freed from the vehicle and taken to hospital. She underwent open surgery to address her right foot and had a plate inserted. She also sustained an injury to her chest and had a drain inserted into her chest.'
"She had skin grafts to her foot and further surgery will be required to her foot. She spent two weeks in hospital.''
Mr Magee told the court: "She was physically sick when she discovered who the driver of the other vehicle was.''
Woodside was arrested and cautioned while being treated in hospital. Five hours after the accident Woodside was tested and found to have 154 milligrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres of his blood. "He was twice the legal limit at this time,'' the prosecutor told Judge Grant.
The court heard that police officers examined CCTV from Market Street, Downpatrick, and identified the black Mercedes car travelling on the wrong side of the road out of Downpatrick at speeds between 47-53 mph in a 30 mph zone.
Mr Magee said experts "could not determine'' the precise speed of the Mercedes car on impact with the Volkswagen Golf.
"They say it was probable to suggest that the momentum of the Mercedes car was greater than that of the Volkswagen on impact.''
The court also heard that when the car was examined, the speedometer of the Mercedes car was "frozen''at a speed of between 75-80 mph.
At police interview in hospital, Woodside accepted he was the driver of the car and admitted he had been drinking.
Wooddside told police that he was heading to Castlewellan and as he drove round the corner of the Ballydougan Road "someone else was there'', adding "it was a moment of madness''.
He said he had "no recollection of the events and couldn't remember anything until he woke up in hospital''.
Mr Magee told the court Woodside "expressed his sorrow'' for what happened and said he "could have killed himself and somebody else'' that evening.
The prosecution lawyer outlined a number of aggravating factors in the case, stating "serious injury had been caused to the victim, the defendant was driving at speed and had consumed a substantial quantity of alcohol''. along with the trauma the victim had suffered as well as witnesses to the crash.
Eugene Grant QC, defending, told the court: "This has been a tragedy for all involved on what appears to have been a first date.''
He told Judge Grant the pair had met while they were both working at Downpatrick racecourse which developed "on a course to form a relationship''.
The defence counsel said that Woodside had taken time to a write a letter which he handed into court. It said: "If I were allowed to speak to Danielle I would apologise for all the pain and grief that I have caused to her and her family.''
"This is true and genuine remorse,'' added Mr Grant QC, who said Woodside would never ride again as a professional jockey and now walked with a limp as a result of the crash.
Judge Grant told Woodside that that he had been driving at a "significant high speed....which was estimated to be less than 75-80 mph''.
"On any view this was an appalling piece of driving and as a result of this appalling piece of driving she has suffered significant injuries to her right foot.
"It is quite clear she is going to have long term problems with her foot and has pain and discomfort.
"According to her Vicitm Impact Report, she now walks with a limp and will require further surgical intervention to fix the fracture and plate in her foot.
"As a consequence of her injuries, she can no longer wear high heels shoes, short dresses or summer dresses because of the scarring to her foot.''
The judge said that although she had an underlying depressive condition, this had been "exacerbated'' by the collision and she now suffered "neuropathic pain'', adding: "It is clear on any view that she would not have had this neuropathic pain if you had not been driving the way you did on that day.''
Accepting that Woodside had admitted his offences from the outset at police interview and had "expressed remorse'', Judge Grant said the appropriate sentence for causing grievous bodily injury by dangerous driving was one of three and a half years.
He said Woodside would spend 21 months in custody and a further 21 months on licence following his release on licence.
Woodside received concurrent sentences of 18 months for aggravated vehicle taking and three months on each count of driving with excess alcohol and driving with no insurance. He was also banned from driving for six years and is required to sit the advance driver's course.
Before the jockey was led to the cells, Judge Grant warned Woodside: "I must make it absolutely clear to you that if you come before this court again on any driving offences then you can expect to face a much more severe sentence.''