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I thought I would die - says crash cop

PUBLISHED: 18:10 26 March 2002 | UPDATED: 11:36 03 March 2010

HORRIFICALLY hurt by a drink-driving pub landlord, a policeman today relived the terrifying moment he thought his life was over.

Drunk-driver Gordon Thwaites today begins an eight-month sentence for the shocking smash that left traffic cop Graham Avery lying helplessly in the middle of a busy road.

HORRIFICALLY hurt by a drink-driving pub landlord, a policeman today relived the terrifying moment he thought his life was over.

Drunk-driver Gordon Thwaites today begins an eight-month sentence for the shocking smash that left traffic cop Graham Avery lying helplessly in the middle of a busy road.

Father-of-two Pc Graham Amey's right leg was so badly broken in the smash on the A1071 at Polstead Heath that he now has a steel pin in it for life and was off work for more than five months.

Even now the 43-year-old can still vividly recall being "absolutely petrified", in the aftermath of the collision as he lay trapped, praying another vehicle would not run him over as he lay trapped beneath his 600lb Honda ST 1100 motorbike.

Thwaites, who had pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to dangerous driving and drink driving, was found to have almost three and a half times the legal amount of alcohol in his breath shortly after the crash which happened on September 17.

When tested Thwaites, 50, the landlord of The Bay Horse in Melford Road, Sudbury, had 122 microgrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath. The legal limit is 35mcg.

Pc Amey was returning to Martlesham headquarters around 9pm from Sudbury on an inquiry when he was hit by Thwaites' Jaguar.

The officer who served the Suffolk force for 22 years, recalled it was pouring with rain and said it was blowing a gale at the time of the smash.

As he was coming to a right hand bend Thwaites' J reg Jaguar came into view.

"I saw this car coming round the corner at considerable speed given the conditions," he said. "He was doing 60mph to 70mph."

Although Thwaites tried to slow the car down, part of the vehicle was on the wrong side of the road and looming towards Pc Amey.

"When he saw me he reacted by swerving to the left to regain his side of the road and on doing so he struck the kerb and careered violently across the road and into the side of my bike.

"For that split second I thought that was going to be it."

Pc Amey, a traffic cop for the past seven years, knew his lower right leg was broken immediately but somehow was able to stay on his bike after the collision.

"I knew both bones in my leg were snapped," he said. "I managed to stay on the bike for a short distance. When I stopped I put my left foot down and started to call for help on my radio, at which point a strong gust on wind blew the bike and I put my right foot down. My leg folded out from under me. I went over and the bike came down on top of me.

"I was in the middle of the road waiting for a car to come round the corner. I was praying that it wouldn't. I was absolutely petrified."

While Pc Amey was pinned under his bike Thwaites was desperately driving round a field he had drunkenly ploughed into after hitting the officer, looking for a way out.

A woman came to Pc Amey's aid as he lay stricken at the mercy of oncoming traffic. She desperately tried to lift the bike off him to try and ease the immense pain he was suffering. However the weight of the Honda was too much for her and it was not until two men, who had been chasing Thwaites' Jaguar round the field, came to help that the police officer struggled free.

Pc Amey said the men who helped him had been on the verge of ringing the police before the accident as they had been alarmed by Thwaites' erratic driving.

Fortunately Thwaites' had been stopped from driving away after the collision by the men who prevented him from leaving the field.

By now the searing pain was almost intolerable for Pc Amey. His tibia and fibula were broken.

"It was excruciating," he said. "I went through two bottles of Entenox (gas and air painkiller) while I was in the ambulance.

"I have had to have two operations and they have put a steel pin in my tibia. I have been told it has got to stay there for good."

Despite the agony he has endured at the hands of a drink driver who almost caused a lethal crash, Pc Amey is not bitter towards the drink-driving publican.

Thwaites was jailed at Bury Crown Court for eight months yesterday, although it is likely he will not be detained for more than half that term.

"I fell that the sentence was appropriate for the offence from a professional point of view, but I do not fell any animosity towards him," said Pc Amey.

In addition to the jail term Thwaites was also banned from driving for three years and ordered to pay £584 costs.

Pc Amey is now back on light duties at Suffolk Police headquarters in Martlesham.


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