Drug driver who hit nursery worker at twice speed limit while on phone spared jail

·3-min read
(Reach)
Clare Cassidy was found to be more than three times the legal drug limit for driving. (Reach)

A drug driver who hit a nursery worker at over 60mph while on her phone has been spared jail.

Clare Cassidy, 31, had been making a phone call while driving just prior to hitting a nursery nurse who was crossing a road while jogging in Stockport in April last year.

Cassidy, from Didsbury, Manchester, was found to be more than three times the legal drug limit, having taken cocaine two days beforehand, Manchester Crown Court heard.

She had been travelling in her BMW at 63mph in a 30mph zone just before the crash, going through a give way junction and making a phone call, the court heard.

The victim, Yasmin Jenkins, 29, spent 12 weeks in hospital, including three weeks in intensive care in a coma after suffering a traumatic brain injury as well as a fractured skull and a broken ankle.

Cassidy, who had pleaded guilty to causing serious injury by dangerous driving and drug driving, was sentenced to two years in prison, suspended for 18 months, and banned from driving for three years.

She must also complete 120 hours of unpaid work and 25 rehabilitation activity requirement days.

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General view of Manchester Crown Court , Crown Square, in the Manchester city centre
Clare Cassidy was handed a suspended prison sentence at Manchester Crown Court. (PA)

The victim had been out jogging with her partner on Styal Road in Gatley at about 3pm on 18 April last year.

After being struck by Cassidy’s car, she was thrown into the air and landed on the pavement face down.

The court heard Cassidy stopped at the scene and shouted: "I can't believe I hit her." 

A drug test showed she had 186mg per litre of benzoylecgonine in her blood, a byproduct of cocaine. The legal limit is 50mg.

The court heard she had taken cocaine two days before, but a judge said the drugs did not have “any direct impact” on her driving and that her speed was the issue.

Recorder Robert Lazarus told Cassidy: “In other circumstances, your driving could quite easily have led to her death.

"It is really only luck from your perspective that she is still alive today.

"This was a deliberate and callous disregard for the safety of other road users.

"If you had been driving at a safe and reasonable speed, no collision would have taken place."

The judge said the victim has problems with her memory and that her partner had to take 10 months off work to help her with basic tasks such as eating and washing.

Clare Cassidy, 31, who was sentenced for causing serious injury by dangerous driving. 100% ID Bardo
Clare Cassidy, centre, was sentenced to two years in prison, suspended for 18 months, and banned from driving for three years. (Reach)

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In a statement, the victim said: "Before this I used to remember everything, I was known as the one to ask if somebody forgot something.

"Unfortunately I am unable to remember much from before this. I can never get back this time in my life."

She has also had problems writing and partner has since suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, the court heard.

Defending, Oliver Jarvis said Cassidy has battled a drug problem, but that she is now clean.

He said: "The defendant is deeply, deeply sorry for what she did that day. If only she could turn the clock back, but she can't.

"She can only demonstrate to the court what she has done since."

Mr Jarvis said Cassidy, who has no previous convictions and also suffered from mental health problems, is genuinely remorseful and is not “seeking sympathy” or expressing “self pity”.

The judge said he was able to avoid sending her to jail because she had pleaded guilty at the “earliest opportunity”.

He said he had also taken into account the “very harsh” current regime in prisons, with some inmates spending more than 23 hours per day in their cells because of coronavirus restrictions.]

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