Drunk man’s terror drive left girl, 14, paralysed

Arthur Ford, 51, caused serious injury by drink and dangerous driving.
Arthur Ford, 51, caused serious injury by drink and dangerous driving.

A drink driver laughed “spookily” as screaming teenage passengers begged him to slow down before he lost control and plunged into a field in an accident which left a girl paralysed.

Arthur Ford, of Weavers Brook, off Cumberland Close, Illingworth, Halifax, stood with crutches in the dock at Calderdale Magistrates Court as he admitted causing serious injury by dangerous driving and drink driving.

Prosecuting, Lisa Beadle told the court Ford drove his Peugeot car to Stockport on May 28 to pick-up a 14-year-old girl and a 17-year-old boy with the intention of returning to Halifax with them.

Miss Beadle told the court not long after they’d set off Ford opened and drank a can of beer at the wheel. The girl, who cannot be named, asked what the 51-year-old was doing. He replied: “I can drink 10 of these and be ok.”

Ford then stopped at a Manchester off-licence and bought three small bottles of Jack Daniels whiskey before urinating outside the shop and driving off.

The court heard there was a half-full bottle of cider rolling around in the front passenger foot-well.

The court was told the girl grew increasingly worried but was too scared to say anything in case Ford, who she had only met twice, would become “stroppy.”

Ford told the teenagers he was hungry and pulled into a petrol station. He was described as scrambling and struggling to count change for food that he washed down with beer before urinating on the forecourt. As he sped off, Ford’s car clipped the curb of the petrol pump.

“Ford drove erratically - speeding up but then breaking sharply and attempting to enter a no-entry road,” said Miss Beadle.

As the vehicle reached what the girl described as “moorland” on Blackstone Edge Road they were travelling at a speed she thought “was much faster than the motorway” - 75-90mph on a 50mph road.

The teenagers begged the driver to slow down, but Ford laughed “spookily” at their pleas, the court heard.

“The terrified pair gripped and held hands as the vehicle careered off the road, travelling 150metres into a nearby field - landing on its side,” said Miss Beadle.

The injured youngsters managed to climb out of the vehicle in which Ford was trapped inside.

The teenage girl suffered a broken sternum, a lacerated spleen and kidneys.

“The horrific accident has left her paralysed from the ribs down and faces being in a wheel chair for the rest of her life. She is being treated in a specialist spinal unit,” said Miss Beadle.

The teenage boy is suffering psychologically, the court heard. In police interview Ford said he bought the whiskey to treat toothache.

Tests showed he was twice over the legal limit.

Mitigating Louise Cowan said: “There’s very little to say. He is not a well man. He has some memory of being momentarily distracted and was speeding because he needed the toilet.”

Ford will be sentenced at Bradford Crown Court on October 1. Magistrates’ disqualified him from driving.