A DRUG driver has been jailed for 16 months after he “ploughed” into an elderly couple on a rural Powys road, leaving one of them in intensive care.

Father-of-seven David Painter was on the wrong side of the road and had at least 16 times the legal amount of cocaine in his system when he smashed into husband and wife Brian and Patricia Kerrigan near Knighton on November 7 last year.

Mrs Kerrigan, 79, was asleep at the time of the accident and suffered the most serious injuries – they had been described previously by a doctor as so bad that she was not expected to survive.

Judge Niclas Parry, sentencing Painter, 43, at Caernarfon Crown Court today (June 28), said he was alarmed to discover that the defendant’s consumption of alcohol and drugs had “significantly increased” since this incident, as a way to deal with it. In any event he said the matter was simply “too serious for anything other than an immediate custodial sentence”.

Prosecutor Rosemary Proctor said the victims were husband and wife Brian Kerrigan, 82, and Patricia Kerrigan, who were making their way back home to the West Midlands from Aberystwyth, where they have a static caravan.

The incident happened at around midday on the A4113 just after the couple had passed through Knighton, heading to Ludlow.

“The defendant was driving in the opposite direction and was on the wrong side of the road when his van ploughed into the car before Mr Kerrigan could take any effective action to avert the collision,” said Ms Proctor, who played CCTV and dash cam footage of the crash, which showed Painter’s Peugeot Boxer clearly on the wrong side of the road.

“The defendant and Mr Kerrigan suffered bruising, but no serious injuries, but this was not the case for Mrs Kerrigan, who was asleep,” added Ms Proctor.

“She remembers coming round and feeling extremely cold. She felt pain across her chest, she described the level of pain as 10 out of 10.

"She was taken to Hereford Hospital and and developed pneumonia and delirium, giving her terrible nightmares in which she believed people were trying to kill her.

"Her physical injuries included 10 fractured ribs and a bruised coccyx, she spent a week in intensive care."

In a victim personal statement provided by Mrs Kerrigan, Ms Proctor said: “I’ve suffered terribly with stress and anxiety and am a nervous wreck.

“I feel I will never be able to make any non-essential journey again. I struggle to sleep and wake with night terrors. I also wake up confused and can’t process where I am. I still suffer discomfort from the injuries and fear any social life I used to enjoy will be impacted.

“We own a static caravan on the Welsh coast and I fear I will never be able to visit again because I can’t bring myself to make the journey.

"We’ve both worked hard and want to enjoy our retirement but I fear things will never get better for me and I will spend rest of my life in or near my home address because I’m afraid to travel anywhere.”

Ms Proctor said Painter failed a breath test at the scene while a drug swipe was positive for both cocaine and cannabis. The level of alcohol was well below the legal limit by the time he was tested again later.

His blood contained more than 800 micrograms of Benzoylecgonine – at least 16 times over the legal limit, which is 50 micrograms.


Dafydd Roberts, representing Painter, of Twitchen Road, Clunbury, in Shropshire, said his client had pleaded guilty to both charges of causing serious injury by dangerous driving and drug driving at his first appearance, which was at Welshpool Magistrates’ Court last month.

“He wishes through me to publicly apologise to both Brian and Patricia Kerrigan for his actions on this day,” said Mr Roberts.

“They were two innocent members of society who were significantly affected by this trauma. His remorse is genuine, he is not trying to impress the court."

He added that Painter did not feel impaired by cocaine, and had only one previous conviction for an unrelated matter from 1997.

“His children and grandchildren depend on him and his ex-partners depend on him financially," he said. "All of those people will be significantly affected by immediate imprisonment.

“Numerous letters have been written on his behalf by those who know him best. They describe him as kind-hearted, thoughtful, helpful and hard-working. He has many qualities."

Judge Parry told Painter: “You could have killed two people and even yourself because you were driving while under the influence of cannabis and cocaine.

“You had 800mcgs of cocaine in your system. Quite inevitably, you lost control of your vehicle and ploughed into a vehicle driven by Mr Kerrigan while his wife slept.

“My view of the sentence being suspended it compromised by my concern that you’re dealing with this matter by having significantly increased your consumption of alcohol and drugs.

“You spend £100 a week on cocaine and drink 2-3 bottles of wine a night. There is no doubt in any event that this matter is simply too serious for anything other than an immediate custodial sentence and the 16-month sentence must be served immediately.”

Painter will serve half the term in prison, after which he will be released on licence.

He will also be disqualified from driving for three years and eight months.