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Drink-driver jailed after A30 U-turn led to near-fatal crash

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: February 11, 2013

Michael Morgan, aged 56, may have been trying to kill himself

A drink driver has been jailed for causing a couple horrific injuries when he drove the wrong way down a dual carriageway and hit their car in a head-on crash.

Michael Morgan, aged 56, may have been trying to kill himself when he steered his Vauxhall Astra straight at a car being driven by a husband and wife who were on a night out in Exeter.

Morgan did a U-turn on the A30 dual carriageway between Exeter and Honiton and then drove back into the path of oncoming traffic until he crashed into victims Nicholas and Margaret Gordon.

Mother-of-two Mrs Gordon, who is in her 40s, suffered horrific chest and stomach injuries, two broken legs and two cracked vertebrae. She was warned she may not survive the night and spent 10 days in intensive care and 40 in hospital.

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Her husband suffered two cracked ribs, a severe cut to his leg and spent eight days in hospital.

Before the accident they were both keen hikers, who had just booked a walking holiday in the Lake District, and the effect of the crash has been life-changing, Exeter Crown Court was told.

London Underground engineer Morgan, of Whitstone Road, Paignton, and Rochford Drive, Luton, admitted drink-driving and dangerous driving and was jailed for 14 months and banned from driving for five years by Recorder Mr David Bartlett.

The recorder told him: "It is a miracle anyone got out of this accident alive. You were two times over the limit and that contributed substantially to this accident which was aggravated by you driving on the wrong side of a dual carriageway.

"This accident almost had fatal consequences. It has been a tragedy for two families, especially Mrs Gordon, who was extremely lucky to survive and whose survival is a credit to the staff of the local hospital.

"You must recognise this was about a bad a case of dangerous driving as it is possible to imagine and it could have been one of causing death by dangerous driving, in which case the sentence would have been measured in years," he said on Thursday.

Mr James Taghdissian, prosecuting, said Morgan had marital difficulties and had travelled from his home in Luton to the family's holiday home in Paignton on October 20-21 last year to seek a reconciliation. He and his wife went to see a band in a pub and he appeared to be drunk and emotional before setting out in his car late at night. He was seen driving the wrong way along the A30 dual carriageway, near Honiton, just before the crash at Aylesbeare just after midnight.

Mr Taghdissian said: "Nicholas Gordon was driving the other way with his wife Margaret in the passenger seat. He became aware of Morgan's car coming towards him and took avoiding action, steering away from it.

"Morgan took exactly the same action from the other direction and there was a head-on collision. This accident happened against the background of someone suffering deep emotional upset but the Crown cannot say it was a deliberate attempt to drive into another car.

"There was no evidence in his phone messages to indicate this although he had told his GP he had suicidal thoughts which included the possibility of crashing his car."

Morgan was breathalysed at the scene and was twice the drink drive limit.

Mr Taghdissian said Mrs Gordon made a victim impact statement saying she suffered flashbacks and nightmares. She had previously been active and enjoyed tending her large garden, walking her dog and jogging with her daughter.

Miss Ceylan Bayram, defending, said Morgan is ashamed of what he did but adamant he was not trying to kill himself. He has been so traumatised by the accident he has been off work with depression.

She said he helps look after the couple's 17-year-old son, who suffers from Aspergers syndrome and is a student in Luton.

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