A drink-driver has been jailed for causing a sickening head-on crash which left a two-year-old boy paralysed for life.
Daniel Thrower, 34, of Shakespeare Avenue, Sprotbrough, left JJ Michalowski with horrifying injuries in a smash which happened just hours after the tot had walked up stairs for the first time.
JJ’s family, including mum Katy and dad Igor, who had been driving the vehicle at the time, were at Leeds Crown Court today, to hear Thrower will serve just 18 months for the crime.
The court heard the toddler’s injuries were so severe that he will never walk again, and he requires a ventilator to help him breathe while sleeping.
During the hearing, a victim impact statement written by JJ’s family read: “There was no need for any of this to happen, but we’re now left to pick up the pieces of the actions of someone who has devastated our family.
“JJ should have been able to run around and have a normal happy childhood, but this has been cruelly taken away. He had only just walked upstairs. He may never be able to walk or appreciate what it was like.”
The court heard father-of-two Thrower drank around four cans of beer before taking his girlfriend’s car from the house they share on March 8 this year.
While driving the wrong way down the A628 bypass in Hemsworth, West Yorkshire, he encountered Mr Michalowski, 30, who was behind the wheel of a Peugeot 407, with his children JJ, Llacia and Leah.
Michael Smith, prosecuting, said Thrower began to drive towards them, causing a collision.
Mr Michalowki told police that ‘it felt like everything exploded, the airbags went off and there was a smell of battery acid and fuel everywhere’.
The court heard Mr Michalowski managed to get the two girls out before going back for JJ, who ‘tried to say daddy but his cries were strange and he was then sick’.
Mr Smith said: “Although all the family suffered some injuries, the greatest injuries were suffered by JJ. There were severe injuries to his spinal cord. In essence he had been paralysed from the trunk down.”
Evidence from a doctor’s report said it is unlikely he will ever walk again.
The court heard that Thrower was also taken to hospital but was “uncooperative with hospital staff” and had to be handcuffed to a bed.
Richard Davies, defending, said Thrower had previously taken a car without the owners’ consent in 1999 and had his licence revoked in 2008 for driving with excess alcohol.
He also said Thrower had been taking medication for depression following the breakdown of an 18-year relationship.
Thrower pleaded guilty to causing serious injury by dangerous driving, aggravated vehicle taking, failing to give a blood sample after the crash, having no appropriate licence and no insurance.
He was jailed for three years, but will be eligible for release after serving half his sentence. He was also banned from driving for three years.
Judge Geoffrey Marson QC said: “You decided to drive even though you knew you had no permission, no insurance, no driving licence, and you must have known you were in no fit condition to get behind the wheel of a motor car.
“The sentence I impose upon you is not intended to be a measure of the devastation and misery you have imposed upon his family.”
Following the hearing, JJ’s family, of South Elmsall, West Yorkshire, spoke of their ordeal.
Dad Igor said: “I don’t think it’s ever going to be enough of a sentence for what he’s done. The horrors just won’t go away.”
JJ’s grandmother, Lesley Liddle, said: “We hate him. I hope everyone knows him for the scumbag he is.”
The boy’s family are now aiming to raise money to buy specialist equipment, including a joystick-controlled wheelchair, to give him back some independence.
Visit his Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Help-Bring-JJ-Home/1449445605329901