Jail for man who left Kenilworth woman with life-threatening injuries after causing head-on car crash

Mark Barnes has been jailed after causing life-threatening injuries to Hollie Smith in a head-on car crash
Mark Barnes has been jailed after causing life-threatening injuries to Hollie Smith in a head-on car crash

A man who caused a devastating head-on crash in south Warwickshire which left a young Kenilworth woman with life-threatening injuries has been jailed.

Mark Barnes had denied causing serious injury to Hollie Smith by driving his Audi A6 estate dangerously on the B4100 Banbury Road in November 2015.

Hollie Smith (right) with her boyfriend Stuart Strong

Hollie Smith (right) with her boyfriend Stuart Strong

But Barnes, 51, of Hill Close, Southam, who blamed the crash on an unexpected seizure as he was driving, was found guilty after a trial at Coventry Crown Court.

And following an adjournment for a pre-sentence report to be prepared on him, he was jailed for two years and nine months by Judge Philip Gregory, who also banned him from driving for five years.

Prosecutor Peter Cooper said the charge concerned a head-on crash on the B4100 Banbury Road at Temple Herdewyke on Tuesday November 10, 2015.

Hollie was driving back to her home in Kenilworth from her job as an Yves Saint Laurent beauty account manager when Barnes’s heavy Audi veered across the road and smashed head-on into her car.

She suffered life-threatening injuries and no fewer than 27 broken bones, including crushed legs, a broken back and neck, and a fractured skull.

Hollie was given emergency treatment while she was trapped in her car for 80 minutes before fire crews cut her free and she was rushed by ambulance to University Hospital in Coventry.

Some of her shattered bones had pushed through the skin, and her blood loss was said to have left her perilously close to death before she was given five pints of blood in hospital.

Barnes and a nine-year-old boy in his car were also injured, although far less seriously, and were also taken to hospital.

As a result of her injuries, Hollie has had a long fight-back to health, spending months in hospital, the first six weeks of it flat on her back and able to move only her arms.

Once she was able to move, she began a courageous and painful battle to walk again – progressing from a wheelchair to managing a few steps with a walking frame, then a single crutch before finally being able to walk unaided.

Barnes’s defence, supported by medical evidence, was that he had suffered an epileptic-type seizure.

But Mr Cooper observed there was evidence that he had suffered such episodes in the past, and had continued to drive regardless of the risk that posed.

In a statement after the sentencing was announced, Hollie said: “I was just driving along then all of a sudden a car came out of nowhere and ploughed
into me. I had no time to react.

“The next thing I remember was being in hospital and the doctors telling me the extent of my injuries. I spent so much time lying in a hospital bed thinking of how my life would never be the same again because of the reckless actions of another motorist.

“Today’s sentencing is a major milestone for me. I’m glad that the driver has finally seen justice and I hope my story acts as a warning of the consequences of what can happen as a result of drivers breaking the law.

“I will always be angry at the driver, not only for injuries he caused me but also for the way he refused to accept responsibility for what happened, which just added to the hurt and pain I’ve had to go through.

"However, I now want to focus on the battles ahead in trying to overcome my injuries and making the most of life.”