Vet's wife smashed into by driver tipped as 'next Lewis Hamilton'

Vet’s wife, 52, blasts racing driver once tipped as the ‘next Lewis Hamilton’ for horror smash which meant she missed her father’s funeral

  • Newly wed Louise Gunstone needed life-saving surgery on her neck and spine 
  • Racing enthusiast Jack Hayes-Robert claimed the incident was a ‘genuine error’

A vet’s wife has condemned a motor racing driver once tipped as a future Lewis Hamilton after he caused a head-on road smash which left so badly injured she was unable to attend her own father’s funeral.

Louise Gunstone, 52, needed surgery on her spine and neck to save her life and prevent paralysis after Jack Hayes-Robert, 21, sped onto the wrong side of the road in his Skoda Fabia and ploughed into her Citroen C4.

Mr Hayes-Robert went public about his competitive go-kart racing in his local newspaper and vowed to go into Formula 1 to ‘beat Lewis Hamilton or Nico Rosberg’ later claimed the accident was a ‘genuine error.’ 

He pleaded guilty to causing serious injury by careless driving.  

Mrs Gunstone who works a nurse at husband Rupert’s equine veterinary surgery in Malpas, Cheshire condemned the budding racer face-to-face from the witness box.

She said: ‘My father died the week before the crash and I had just started to plan the funeral arrangements,’ the mother of two told Hayes-Roberts at Chester magistrates court.

Louise Gunstone, 52, needed life-saving surgery on her neck and spine after budding racer Jack  Hayes-Robert crashed into her car

Racing enthusiast Mr Hayes-Robert had vowed to ‘beat Lewis Hamilton or Nico Rosburg’ on Formula 1

He had previously gone public about his competitive go-kart racing in a local newspaper

Mrs Gunstone said the accident last February prevented her from attending her father’s funeral

‘When the accident happened I was unable to carry out any of his wishes and that fell to my sister who had to take time off work and to pay for expenses. I was unable to attend my father’s funeral due to my injuries and I will never forget not being able to be there – all due to you crashing into me.

‘On the outside I may look fine, well and happy but on the inside, I am depressed, exhausted with everything and I am drained. The accident has a profound effect on my life and on my daughters, and other friends and family. A profound effect. I want you to think long and hard about what that means.’

The crash occurred on February 13 of this year when Mrs Gunstone who married her husband only the previous November was on her way to work at 5.20am along the A41 Whitchurch Road in Christleton in Cheshire.

She had gone past the Cheshire Cat public house and was approached a right hand bend when she suddenly saw the headlights on Hayes-Roberts’ car before it ploughed into her.

She received injuries to her T1 vertebra, at the top of the thorax and her C7 vertebra, as the bottom of the neck. She was conveyed to Aintree Hospital near Liverpool before being transferred to he Walton Spinal Injuries Hospital.

In her victim impact statement Mrs Gunstone added: ‘Going to work that just seemed like another Monday but my life then came to an abrupt halt. It was like my life had hit a brick wall and everything that I knew, or was familiar with, came to a complete stop.

‘On the day of the accident both my husband and my daughter spent hours trying to locate me whilst work colleagues feared the worst.

The newly married wife of a vet was rushed to Aintree Hospital near Liverpool after Hayes-Roberts’ Skoda Fabia ploughed into her Citroen C4

Louise had wed husband Rupert in November of the previous year

Hayes-Roberts (pictured with father Colin, a mechanic), had remorse for what was a genuine error, his defence lawyer said

‘My life has not been the same since. I am worried and sad that it will never be the same again. The crash left me with life changing injuries. I had complex surgery to stabilise the spine to prevent paralysis from the neck down and possible death.

‘Two metal rods, fixed by 11 screws are holding my neck and spine together. Post-surgery, I was not allowed to walk unaided, I am now walking with difficulty and I still cannot maintain an upright posture. I find uneven surfaces and stairs a problem. I have severe pain in my neck, back and arms and I have lost sensation in my hands and both arms. I still suffer with constant pain in both arms. I have a numbness in my hands, I have difficulty holding a pen, and difficulty opening jars.

‘I burnt myself on the oven as I was unaware of the heat. My neck is so rigid with metal work that it takes me a long time to dress and undress. I was previously young and fit – now I am struggling in a way I did not expect.

‘I have severe pain which makes me think I am going to pass out and I have sleepless nights. I wake up crying, trying to work out why and how this happened. I have days of crying when I am exhausted and drained and my mood is low most of the time.

‘My other daughter flew from Australia to be with me and look after me, after I left the hospital and she now suffers from anxiety. If I am not around, she can wake up in the middle of the night panicking that I have died.

‘I am terrified of getting in a car and cannot bear the thought of driving ever again though it is an essential part of my job. I had a good life. I would go shopping with my daughter. I am now unable to work since the accident. It is soul destroying. I feel so depressed and so lonely. I just want to cry all the time.’

Earlier Miss Jessica Pridding prosecuting said: ‘She saw the headlights on the defendant’s car in front of her and remembered thinking the defendant was going too fast and then the defendant hit her. She said it felt like it was square on.’

Hayes-Roberts, of Saltney, near Chester had no previous convictions. 

His defence lawyer Mr Ashley Barnes said: ‘There is genuine remorse from him for the injuries that have been caused. These offences are always dreadful but this is not one of those cases we deal with where you can say, you have been drunk or taking drugs,

‘Nobody wakes up and expects or hopes or even contemplates this. This was a genuine error that has caused a dreadful situation. He knows it and he apologises entirely for it. He is of course not going to be able to drive for a considerable period of time and he will have to deal with that.

Hayes-Roberts, of Saltney, near Chester had no previous convictions

He was handed a 12-month community order to do 200 hours of unpaid work and an 18-month ban from driving

The go-kart racer will also have to pay £234 in costs and victim surcharge, and his insurers are further expected to pay compensation to Mrs Gunstone

Hayes-Roberts was ordered to complete a 12-month community order with 200 hours of unpaid work and he was banned from driving for 18 months. He was also ordered to pay £234 in costs and victim surcharge. His insurers are expected to pay compensation to Mrs Gunstone.

District Judge Jack McGarva told Hayes-Roberts: ‘When you drive a car you have to accept that you are in charge of what can be a lethal weapon and a momentary lapse of concentration can lead to horrendously serious consequences.

‘That is something all of us have to bear in mind when driving a car. ‘You appear to have ended up on the wrong side of the road, you appear to have been driving too fast and you were involved in a head on collision with a driver who was driving perfectly correctly.

‘You have heard of the profound effect on the victim. Even though, there have been multiple effects on her everyday life and activities, you can be thankful that the impact was not even worse, that she was not left paralysed or even killed. That could easily have happened in almost exactly the same circumstances.

‘Your speed was inappropriate for the prevailing road conditions and for reasons best known to you, you were on the wrong side of the road. You were guilty of unsafe positioning. There’s also an element of a lack of maturity.

‘You are going to have to spend the rest of your life remembering what the victim said in this case. This accident has caused her to suffer. I do want you to go away and to reflect on that.’

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