Call this justice?

IT is less than four months since Rob Gentry suffered a broken back when a dangerous driver hurtled into him as he made his way to work.

Josh Warwick

LESS than four months ago Rob Gentry was so seriously injured in a car crash that medics feared he would never walk again.

His spine was shattered while an arterial bleed and the effect of hours of agonising surgery required an emergency blood transfusion just to keep him alive.

But today, the father-of-two, who still struggles to walk and faces many more medical procedures on the long road to rehabilitation, is preparing a premature return to work.

His hand has been forced after he this week received the devastating news that the driver who ploughed into him on that fateful July day was not insured.

Although Davide Mendes only held a provisional driving licence, he had previously been insured through his sister's policy - but that insurance expired just five days before the crash.

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Mr Gentry had been relying on the cash he would have received from Mendes' insurance - he has been on half pay since the crash and has been forced to borrow from his family to pay the bills.

Meanwhile, an agreement to pay only the interest on his mortgage expires next month.

The bombshell means Mr Gentry, of Lonsdale Close, Ipswich, will now have to seek compensation through the Motor Insurance Bureau, which could take several months.

Today, the 38-year-old hit out at Mendes' insurance provider - UK Insurance - for failing to inform police the policy had expired.

And he told how being a victim of crime had been a hugely experience ordeal.

The design engineer said: “The process of trying to reclaim the out-of-pocket expenses has been far more stressful than the physical recovery.

“Despite UK Insurance telling the police and my solicitor that the car was insured and will honour the claim, they have now, two months down the line, informed us that Mr Mendes' cover ran out five days before the crash.

“I don't expect a company to pay a claim if the policy has expired, however they do have an obligation to provide up to date information as and when the police requests it, not to mention updating the police database which is used daily by traffic police.

“We now have to restart the whole process again and apply to the motor insurance bureau for untraceable and uninsured collisions.”

The cost of recovering from the accident has been huge. Hospital car parking charges, increases in phone bills, prescription fees coupled with a major loss of earnings has been difficult to bear.

“Why is it that someone going about his business trying to provide for his family who pays his taxes and insurance can find themselves trying to survive for four to five months on half pay?

“It's amazing how expensive I've found it to be a victim of a crime in this country.”

“It seems so wrong.”

Nobody was available from UK Insurance to comment.

The recovery process:-

IN the four months since the accident, Rob Gentry has faced a non-stop battle to recover from the massive injuries he sustained.

During his 16-day stay in hospital, he endured scans, surgery and blood transfusions.

His lower back suffered a burst fracture - where the bones splinter into dozens of tiny fragments - and required the careful insertion of pins, plates and screws.

During five hours of surgery, Mr Gentry lost more than two pints of blood and so required a transfusion.

He said: “It's hard to believe that it's been almost four months since the crash.

“I am doing ok - it's not so much pain now, more of a stiffness in my back. My legs are numb from my knees to my ankles.

“At this early stage it's impossible to say if these symptoms will be for life or just short term.

“I can walk but I have to concentrate. If I have a slightly bent knee, it can just give way and I'm on the floor before I know it.

“I return for fresh X-rays every two months and at some point will need another MRI CAT scan.

“I must admit it looked a lot worse than I was expecting when we saw it on the screen. The damaged vertebra has been repositioned away from my spinal cord which was badly crushed and a bone graft was fitted. There are so many screws and so much metal work.

“The metal work transfers the weight from the vertebrae above to the one below the damaged vertebrae via four large titanium screws connected to a frame.”

Mr Gentry had hoped to have physiotherapy and counselling, which would have been paid for with the insurance money. But the lack of cash means he has had to make do without both.

“I feel I need physio on my legs and some sort of counselling, too,” he said.

“But by the time that this is sorted out, the damage will be done and it will be too late.”

Mr Gentry added: “We owe the police so much in all this. They have been a huge support to me and my family and have gone way beyond the call of duty and don't get the praise they so deserve.”

The court case:-

DAVIDE Mendes was sent to a young offenders' institute for 16 months after he admitted dangerous driving and driving without a licence.

As part of an appalling catalogue of driving, Ipswich Crown heard that on the day in question Mendes:

- got involved in a fight

- fled in a car without a full licence or insurance

- jumped a red light

- drove the wrong way down Warwick Road

- sped along Woodbridge Road at up to 70mph

- clipped a kerb at 80mph, smashing into Mr Gentry's VW Golf

Despite forgiving Mendes, Mr Gentry said both he and his wife Joanne feel courts should have the power to hand down tougher sentences where warranted for bad cases of dangerous driving.

He said: “Judges really ought to be freed up to take it case by case.

“There seems to be a broad scope of dangerous driving offences and the maximum two-year sentence doesn't seem a lot for some cases.”

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