Jail for Chatteris driver

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A motorist who crashed into a van at speed on a Fenland road after carrying out a dangerous overtaking move has been jailed.

Ainars Zelgis (32), of Abbeygate Court, March, left van driver, Gavin Brooks, seriously ill in hospital following the crash on the A141 near Chatteris on October 30 last year.

Witnesses said he was travelling at speeds up to 90mph in the seconds before the head-on impact with the van.

Zelgis and his two passengers were also badly injured in the collision.

On Friday Zelgis appeared at Peterborough Crown Court, after pleading guilty to causing serious injury by dangerous driving.

He was jailed for 20 months by Judge Sean Enright, who said: “This is best described as a single very bad manoeuvre, but one with appalling consequences.”

Peter Gair, prosecuting, said: “It was the early morning of October 30 on the A141.It was dark, damp and slightly misty.

“There was a queue of about six vehicles behind a lorry with a speed of around 45-50mph.

“The defendant came up behind the traffic, and chose to overtake all the vehicles. There was no room to pull in between the back of the queue and the lorry.

“Witnesses said he accelerated above 60mph, and a van could be seen coming in the opposite direction.

“The inevitable happened, and the van was unable to take avoiding action.

“The two vehicles collided, and left the road. Gavin Brooks, who was driving the van, Zelgis and his two passengers had to be cut out of their vehicles by the fire brigade.”

Mr Gair said Mr Brooks was taken to Addenbrooke’s Hospital with fractures to his leg and pelvis, along with numerous other injuries. He needed several operations, a blood transfusion, and is still recovering from his injuries.

Zelgis suffered injuries to both his ankles and both his knees, broken ribs and torn muscles in his shoulder, while his passengers also suffered internal injuries.

Mr Gair said: “The defendant has never disputed what happened – he cannot remember what happened, though.”

Jason Stevens, defending, said: “The defendant has been a resident in this country for four years, and he has no previous offences. He appreciates how lucky he is to be here and raise a family.

“He fully recognises how fortunate he was he was not killed, or killed anyone else. He is remorseful.”

Judge Enright said: “Mr Brooks suffered life-changing injuries.”

Along with the jail sentence, Zelgis was banned from driving for four years.