Pensioner 'lucky to be alive' on A27 as 22kg brick crashes through his windscreen as driver towing trailer is jailed

Portsmouth Crown Court
Portsmouth Crown Court
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A DRIVER who was hit in the face with a 22kg brick when it crashed through his windscreen after flying off a dangerous trailer is lucky to be alive, a court has heard.

Part-time Goodwood marshall Peter Condie, 77, was driving home from Ikea in Southampton with his wife Brenda, 70, on the A27 towards Havant when carpenter Nicholas Dawkins, 56, lost control of his VW Caddy and trailer as it wobbled and then jack-knifed.

Portsmouth Crown Court heard how the 30 bricks weighing 875kg being carried in the trailer, which flew on to the westbound carriageway causing a separate four-vehicle crash, were not secured and caused the crash when Dawkins accelerated to try and regain control.

Prosecutor Martyn Booth told how terrified Mrs Condie tried to wake her car enthusiast husband who was knocked unconscious for five minutes before waiting with him in agony as firefighters cut the roof off.

Former Estee Lauder operations director Mr Condie suffered a bleed on the brain, fractures to his eye sockets, jaw, nose, the base of his skull, multiple cuts to his face, and has lost his sense of smell and taste. He underwent a eight-hour plastic reconstruction surgery with neurosurgeons involved. 

He has a ‘total lack of independence,’ a judge said and is left with a permanently weeping right tear duct.

Dawkins, of Briarwood Close, Fareham, was jailed for 20 months after he admitted causing serious injury by dangerous driving after picking up the trench bricks for Groundworks 360 from building merchant covers in Portsmouth and heading back to Hayling Island.

Sentencing, judge William Ashworth said: ‘You just didn’t know what you were doing. You said you relied on some guidance you received for driving a caravan and sped up, which in the circumstances seems difficult to understand.’

Watching proceedings in court were the victim's daughters Beckie Condie, 43, and Kate Terry, 46, who wept as the case was outlined.

Ms Condie said: 'We're just pleased to finally have closure on behalf of my parents, they've dealt with this with complete dignity and we're glad we can put this to bed.'

Opening the case, prosecutor Martyn Booth said: ‘A vehicle that had been travelling behind this defendant that was driven by Mr Condie, a BMW X3 vehicle.

‘It seems he was fairly close to this defendant’s vehicle when this incident happened. 

‘One of those 22kg bricks flew off the back of the trailer. It went through the windscreen of Mr Condie’s BMW, bending back the steering wheel, continued some before colliding with his head and face with a great deal of force.

‘He remembers little about the incident itself.’

He added: ‘He remembers seeing something in front of him and remembering uttering the words “oh... ” and everything went blank. He doesn’t remember anything that happened thereafter until he wakes up eight days later in hospital having been put in an induced coma.’

Reading from Mr Condie’s wife’s statement, the prosecutor added: ‘It was the most devastating and shocking event and one that she relives all the time.

‘When she eventually came alert to what happened she initially thought Peter was dead. In fact she was sure that he was dead. He was bleeding from every facial orifice and a deep wound to his forehead.’

Her husband was unconscious for five minutes before he woke up in complete agony. Firefighters battled for two hours to cut the roof off the BMW and rescue the couple, who live in Bognor Regis.

Mr Condie underwent an eight-hour surgery on Christmas Eve with two plastic surgeons and two neurosurgeons as they carried out a painful reconstruction that left his face swollen and sensitive to light while recovering.

Mr Condie also suffered a broken jaw and a separated palate. 

He and his wife had been travelling the world in their retirement but can no longer travel on a plane.

Investigators found the van and trailer’s tyres were under-inflated, and the brakes on the trailer were not working.

‘We have a perfect storm developing here, many different defects coming together to cause a situation which is potentially very dangerous, and was very dangerous,’ Mr Booth added. The insecure load destabilised the trailer and the defects made it ‘almost impossible’ to get control again.

He said: ‘Perhaps the most serious aspect of this case was the way in which the load was left on the trailer. It was a load of bricks 30cm by 34cm each, a combined weight of 875kg on a pallet covered in polythene.’

He added: ‘There was nothing to secure that load on that trailer other than the weight of the load itself.’

Daniel Reilly, mitigating, said the incident was caused by ‘a large degree of extreme bad fortune’.

Known as ‘Nice Nick’, Mr Reilly said his client was known as a ‘genuinely decent human being’, and added: ‘He is broken by the harm he has caused Mr Condie.’

Judge Ashworth banned Dawkins from driving for two years and 10 months. He must complete an extended retest to earn his licence back.