Her victim is lucky to be alive but speeding drug driver walks free from court

A speeding drug driver who left a jogger fighting for her life after ploughing into her as she crossed the road has avoided jail.

Clare Cassidy, 31, was driving at more than twice the speed limit in her BMW when she hit the 34-year-old woman on a Saturday afternoon in Stockport.

Cassidy, from Didsbury, was found to be more than three times the legal drug limit, and had been travelling at 63mph in a 30mph zone before the crash.

The victim, a nursery nurse, 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.

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“In other circumstances, your driving could quite easily have led to her death,” a judge told Cassidy.

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

The judge paid tribute to the ‘bravery and determination’ of the victim in her recovery, with her long term prognosis remaining uncertain.

She has problems with her memory, and her partner had to take 10 months off work to help her with basic tasks such as eating and washing.

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“Before this I used to remember everything, I was known as the one to ask if somebody forgot something,” she said.

“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 her voice was also affected with her being left unable to shout, whisper or sing.

Her partner has since suffered from post traumatic stress disorder, Manchester Crown Court heard.

The incident occured on Styal Road, Gatley

The victim, a keen cook who previously enjoyed going to the gym, was out jogging with her partner on Styal Road in Gatley, at about 3pm on April 18 last year.

Her partner crossed the road because the pavement was ending, and she followed shortly after.

Prior to the crash, Cassidy went through a give way junction without stopping and had been making a phone call, the court heard.

Before hitting her, Cassidy had been travelling at an average of 63mph.

The victim was thrown into the air and landed on the pavement face down, before being rushed to hospital.

Cassidy stopped at the scene and was heard to shout: “I can’t believe I hit her.”

She underwent a drug test which 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 the judge said the drugs did not have ‘any direct impact’ on her driving, and her speed was the issue.

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Recorder Robert Lazarus told Cassidy: “While clearly you were over the legal limit and should not have been driving at all that day, I have seen no evidence before the court that the benzoylecgonine in your system had any direct effect on your driving.

“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.”

Defending, Oliver Jarvis said that 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’ regime in prisons currently, with prisoners said to often spend more than 23 hours in their cells due to coronavirus.

Cassidy was sentenced to two years in jail, 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.

Cassidy, of Dundreggan Gardens, Didsbury, admitted causing serious injury by dangerous driving, and drug driving.

MEN – Stockport