Drink-driver who mowed down mother-of-five in Whitby is jailed

Michael Hodgkins, 48, from Redcar has been jailed.
Michael Hodgkins, 48, from Redcar has been jailed.

A drink and drug-driver has been jailed after his car spun out of control in Whitby town centre and mowed down a nurse who suffered devastating injuries, including multiple broken bones.

Michael Hodgkins, 48, from Redcar, had been on a pub crawl with a group of young men before getting behind the wheel of his BMW 5 Series, York Crown Court heard.

Hodgkins had drunk at least five pints of stout and had cannabis in his system when he and the four young men got into the vehicle in the packed harbour area during peak holiday season, said prosecutor Rob Galley.

Holiday-makers looked on aghast as Hodgkins drove “at speed” from a car park in Station Square onto the main road. A police car followed him, but he accelerated through Bagdale towards the junction with Broomfield Terrace, where he lost control of the BMW which began to “fishtail” and swivel around “like a spinning top”.

It struck a Ford Fiesta parked in the side street and cannoned off railings before hitting nurse Elizabeth Dobson, 45, who was crushed against a wall.

Police were quickly on the scene where Mrs Dobson’s husband was tending to his stricken wife, who broke her leg in at least three places, suffered three fractures of her pelvis, a puncture wound to one of her legs and “countless” cuts and bruises.

Hodgkins was arrested and charged with causing serious injury by dangerous driving and driving over the prescribed limit. He admitted the offences and appeared in court for sentence on Friday.

The court heard the shocking incident happened at about 6.25pm on August 5 last year and was witnessed by the owner of the stationary Ford Fiesta who was walking home from the shops when he heard a “skid and a screech of wheels”.

He said the BMW was careering sideways, out of control, before hitting the woman who just moments earlier had been walking hand-in-hand with her husband.

“The BMW was spinning its wheels constantly as it tried to rev, like a spinning top,” said Mr Galley. “It ended up sideways-on, spinning round, striking the female.”

Mrs Dobson, who works as a nurse in Merseyside and lives in Lancashire, was taken by ambulance to James Cook Hospital in Middlesbrough where she had two major operations and pins inserted because her pelvis was unstable.

A roadside breath test showed Hodgkins was over the limit for drugs. He was hauled into police custody where he refused to give a blood or urine sample, but a breath test showed he was twice over the drink-drive limit. Hodgkins told officers he had drunk about five pints of beer and had smoked cannabis the night before.

Mr Galley said Mrs Dobson had tried to jump out of the way but was struck by the back end of the BMW. The now-single mother-of-five spent seven weeks in hospital and had to take “many” weeks off work. She missed out on family events and was now in constant pain.

In a victim statement, she said she was now having to rely on her life savings because of the loss of earnings. Hodgkins, of Thirlmere Road, Redcar, told police he had little recollection of the incident.

The court heard he had previous convictions dating back more than 20 years for offences including burglary, shoplifting, criminal damage and driving while disqualified.

Defence barrister Aisha Wadoodi said Hodgkins, a grandfather, was genuinely remorseful and was ordinarily a responsible driver.

But Judge Paul Batty QC slammed him for his “drunken, loutish, absolutely appalling behaviour”.

Jailing Hodgkins for 32 months, he told him: “Your behaviour… was reprehensible. Empty bottles of beer were being thrown out of the vehicle and you ignored a police instruction to stop.

“What you did quite simply was to mow down a pedestrian, a nurse with a large young family, and you gravely injured her. The injuries have been life-changing.”

Hodgkins was also given a three-year driving ban.