A motorist swerved across a country road near Towcester and side-swiped an overtaking car, causing a crash which left the other driver, from Buckingham, with extensive and life-changing injuries.
Nicholas Sherratt, 33, was eating an orange and reaching for a bottle of water when he collided with Kevin Bulmer’s Renault Megane on the A5 at the Duncote junction, near Towcester.
Northampton Crown Court heard the impact was minor but caused Mr Bulmer’s car to become airborne and crash into trees, before spinning back onto the carriageway.
Mr Bulmer, 32, spent more than a month in three specialist hospitals, in a coma, with severe injuries. He was left fighting for his life and required numerous operations. He now requires a daily carer.
Michael Waterfield, prosecuting, said both drivers were travelling southbound on the A5 at 12.30pm on March 15, when Mr Bulmer went to overtake Sherratt’s vehicle, travelling over the 60mph limit.
He said: “The defendant moved right for whatever reason and there was a collision.
“In terms of impact, it was minor but the consequences of it were serious.
“It has to be said Mr Bulmer was overtaking in the wrong place, but that in no way excuses the defendant’s actions.
“Mr Bulmer remembers nothing of it. As he tried to overtake, the defendant twice moved in front of him, blocking his path.
“The witnesses concluded that was deliberate and the defendant, of course, gives a different explanation. Whatever happened, Mr Bulmer made a further attempt to overtake and as he drove alongside, the defendant moved to the right, hitting the car on the front passenger side.”
Sherratt, of Ashby Road, Wellingborough, pleaded guilty to dangerous driving but denied he had deliberately tried to stop the overtaking manoeuvre, maintaining it was accidental.
Matthew Kirk, mitigating, said: “The defendant was eating an orange and retrieving a bottle of water from the floor and as a result he did not pay sufficient attention to the road.
“He was not aware he was being overtaken; there was no element of road rage.
“He will always feel the consequences of that day. His remorse and concern for the injuries sustained is very great and I’d ask Your Honour to take that into account.
“There is a gulf between his intentions and the outcome of this collision.”
In sentencing Judge Richard Bray accepted it was not a deliberate act.
He added: ““It is a miracle this accident was not fatal when one looks at the photographs.
He jailed Sherratt for a year and banned him from driving until 2015.