Drug driver seriously injured two pals in crash after speeding and inhaling laughing gas behind the wheel

Georgia Hunter has been jailed at Newcastle Crown Court
-Credit: (Image: Newcastle Chronicle)

A drug driver seriously injured two of her friends while speeding and inhaling laughing gas behind the wheel.

Georgia Hunter filmed herself taking nitrous oxide through a balloon while driving a Citroen DS at speed between pubs. The 22-year-old, who was carrying three passengers, then lost control of the vehicle and it ended up on its roof.

Newcastle Crown Court heard how one of her passengers, who was 17 at the time, managed to crawl from the car as it began to smoke. She was left screaming in pain due to the injuries she suffered.

The victim, who is now 18, had to have steel rods inserted into her pelvis bone. She also suffered a fracture to her spine and sustained damage to her sciatic nerve in her leg.

A male passenger in the car suffered from a bleed on the brain, a fracture to the skull, a fracture to the vertebrate at the top of the spine and a broken wrist.

Both passengers were initially rushed to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Gateshead before being transferred to the Royal Victoria Infirmary (RVI) in Newcastle. They lost work as a result of the injuries they suffered.

The third passenger managed to escape without any serious injuries. He told the court that he feared for his life and he was amazed that they had all survived the crash.

The court in Newcastle heard how Hunter, who was 21 years old at the time, had also been drinking alcohol prior to the crash on June 9 last year. She had collected the female passenger from her home before going to a pub where she got a alcoholic drink.

She then drove them to another pub where they met up with the two males, who were also in the vehicle. She continued drinking and went to buy some nitrous oxide, known as laughing gas.

All four of them got in the car and she drove them to a working men's club, which was closed. She continued to drive too fast for the conditions while inhaling laughing gas.

The court heard how one of the males asked to get out of the vehicle and Hunter said she was a "good driver". The other male said he checked his seatbelt was on while hanging onto the door and the handle.

The female passenger said that the next thing she remembered was the car being on it's roof. She had been thrown forward and was unable to get out of the vehicle. She managed to crawl out of the vehicle as it began to smoke. Hunter and the other two passengers also managed to escape from the car.

Hunter was found to have a cocaine breakdown product in her system and she was more than seven times over the limit.

The defendant, of Burns Avenue, West Boldon, South Tyneside, pleaded guilty to two charges of causing serious injury by dangerous driving and one count of drug driving.

Fiona Lamb, defending, told the court: "The defendant has no previous cautions or convictions. She has a good driving record, certainly an unblemished record in terms of points. She is remorseful, which I would consider, your honour, is genuine remorse.

"Importantly the defendant was 21 years old at the time, she is now 22. I would submit the defendant's age and apparent lack of maturity plays a big part in this case.

"The defendant sustained injuries herself. Certainly the injury to the back of the defendant's scalp is quite a horrific injury. The defendant also has a very bad injury which is extremely worrying, close to her eye. But thankfully it hasn't affected her eye or eyesight. It's healed now, she has a scar now.

"She has told me that she thinks about this case most of the time. She has a scar right across her face reminding her of what she did and why happened."

Ms Lamb said the female passenger was Hunter's best friend at the time and was the person who suffered the most serious injuries. She said she had "destroyed a good friendship" and caused significant and serious injuries as a result of her behaviour - which she will have to live with for the rest of her life.

Ms Lamb said Hunter worked full-time at a doctor's surgery, had a good work ethic and had been assessed as a low risk of reoffending.

She said her grandparents had always been there for her and she supports her grandfather in relation to medical care. She added: "I'm told that's not all the time, she's used to give her grandmother some respite, to allow her grandmother to have some free time of her own. Although it's not full-time care she would clearly be a miss to her grandmother and grandfather."

Judge Stephen Earl told Hunter that she was driving too fast for the conditions and also inhaling laughing gas from the balloons. He said: "I know that's true because you filmed it on your mobile."

The judge told her that it couldn't have been a "more dangerous set of circumstances" and that it was "absolutely amazing" that nobody died.

He said: "It could have been far worse frankly, you could have all been killed. Frankly it was one of the worst non-fatal dangerous driving that I have seen. It was an accident - as happened - waiting to happen!"

He said her driving was so awful and so near being fatal that there was only one sentence he could pass and that was immediate custody. Hunter cried and screamed as she was led away to start a two-year prison sentence.

She was also disqualified from driving for four years and must sit an extended driving test before she can get back behind the wheel.