Wife tells of drink driver's remorse

DRINK-DRIVER Craig Potter is today serving 12-months in prison for leaving an Ipswich pedestrian with horrendous injuries after ploughing into him and pinning him against a wall.

DRINK-DRIVER Craig Potter is today serving 12-months in prison for leaving an Ipswich pedestrian with horrendous injuries after ploughing into him and pinning him against a wall.

While the previously law-abiding docker and his family will be punished for a year, Potter's victim Andrew Scarlett must pay the price for the rest of his life.

COLIN ADWENT, KATE GOODING AND HAZEL BYFORD report on a case that has wrecked so many lives.>

CRAIG Potter is languishing in jail today, still rueing “the biggest mistake of his life”.

As his victim Andrew Scarlett struggles to overcome life-changing injuries, Potter's pitiful tale is a powerful warning of the consequences of drink driving.

Ipswich Crown Court heard Potter, of Westholme Road, Ipswich, mounted the pavement in the town's Key Street before smashing into Mr Scarlett shortly after 7am on November 22.

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Mr Scarlett now needs full-time care after sustaining injuries including a fractured skull, fractured right cheekbone causing deafness in his right ear and two broken legs.

Both legs also needed to be operated on and pinned, while a skin graft was required to his left leg.

The court was told Potter had admitted dangerous and drink driving at an earlier hearing.

Prosecutor Kate Stephenson said a breath test showed 45-year-old Potter, who believes he fell asleep at the wheel, had 40 microgrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath. The legal limit is 35 mcg.

Miss Stephenson said Potter told police he had worked a “rough” and “busy” night shift as a berth operator at Felixstowe docks.

Before driving home he got into his car and had a Lucozade and two cans of Stella Artois lager.

The court was told Mr Scarlett and Pat Keohane had been walking along the path when they saw Potter's Hyundai Lantra heading towards them.

They tried to take avoiding action, but the car hit Mr Scarlett.

Potter's solicitor Charles Riddleston said eight members of his client's family were in court to support him.

Before reading out a heart-rending letter from Potter's wife, Teresa, outlining the effect the incident has had on their family, Mr Riddleston stressed his client had no previous convictions.

Mr Riddleston added: “He told police in interview he was ok to drive. He had a bit of a pick-me-up. He can't remember the incident.”

A pre-sentence report highlighted his remorse and he offered his sincere apologies to Mr Scarlett.

Mr Riddleston said: “He described his actions as the biggest mistake of his life.”

Judge John Holt sentenced Potter to 12 months for dangerous driving and six months to run concurrently for drink driving. He was also disqualified from driving for a total of three years.

Although there had previously been a suggestion Potter may not have had an MoT, a driving licence or insurance, this was not the case and he was never charged with any of these offences.

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Part of Teresa Potter's letter read out during the mitigation for her husband.

“CRAIG and I have been married for almost 21 years.

We have two children. Kimberley, 19 years and Ashley who is 17 years, both still live at home, but both are employed.

We all have a very happy family relationship and always have had. They see their father as the “kingpin” of the family, they have always respected him and looked up to him.

He has always been a loving and caring father.

On Wednesday, November 22, I was in bed when I received what I can only describe as a devastating mobile phone call from Craig.

I was so shocked I kept screaming at him “where are you, where are you?” He then hung up.

Craig rang back later. I could hear like a generator in the background and people in the background talking to him, and I could not get him to speak to me.

I remember hearing him say to someone “What have you got to take my door off for?” This absolutely shocked me, I believed he was trapped in his car.

My daughter came in to my bedroom and I had to explain what I thought had happened.

I quickly got dressed expecting the police to come round to tell me he was in hospital. They never came and in a way this was worse and I was very, very upset and did not know what to do.

Sometime later Craig phoned me from the police station and told me he had been “done” for drink driving.

My first words to him were something like “What have you done to us Craig?”. At this time I thought our whole world had come to a stop.

This accident has had a horrendous effect on our family. When Craig eventually came home he was a mess. He was so devastated, but could not explain what had happened.

My daughter told me that a website for the Evening Star was detailing a terrible accident, where a man was fighting for his life.

It was only then that we all realised the true extent of what had happened. The web site showed a picture of Craig's car. Craig was so emotional and virtually “numb” for days. He went to pieces and cried and cried. He could not believe what he had done.

Craig thought the man was going to die and he was responsible for his death. Craig has never been in any trouble not even a parking ticket. He does not drink much, just made a mistake on the day - we will never know why.

We as a family have supported Craig. He knows the terrible effect it has had on me and the children and his mum and dad.

We have tried to discuss the fact that he might have to go to prison but we each end up in tears and have to walk away from each other.

We are a normal law-abiding family, who have been “rocked” by these events. Both Craig, myself and the children know what the victim's family are going through and we all have great sympathy.

We too are grieving and it is very hard to cope with.

The Craig Potter we see now is not the same person who, prior to the accident, was a totally different person. He has often said he wished it was him who had died, or been injured, such is the guilt he feels.

I have even hidden up all our tablets at home in case he did something.

Craig accepts he must be punished. He is a lovely man, loving husband and father who made a silly mistake.”

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