Tue, 08 Oct 2019
A MAN has been locked up for an alcohol-fuelled road accident which devastated his victim’s life.
A judge said he had no option but to pass an immediate custodial sentence because the danger to the wider Hungerford community had been significant.
In the dock at Reading Crown Court was 20-year-old Oliver Gyorffy, who lives at North View, Hungerford.
A non-driver, with no licence or insurance, he had been drinking when he took his mother’s car without consent and embarked on a course of action which was to have far-reaching consequences for the life of pedestrian Thomas Pennington and for Gyorffy himself.
The court heard that another motorist, identified only as Mr Monger, saw Gyorffy’s Volkswagen Up approaching on Hungerford Common.
Jane Davis, prosecuting, said: “The defendant’s car was travelling fast... it appeared erratic, weaving from side to side.”
Only the side lights were deployed, despite the night being pitch dark.
Ms Davis added: “The defendant’s car hit Mr Pennington at speed. The pain was immediate and agonising.”
In fact, the court heard, Mr Pennington’s arm had been shattered in four places and he has not been able to work since the incident on November 21 last year.
Gyorffy, who works at the Co-op in Hungerford, slowed, but then sped off, leaving other motorists to stop to help the stricken victim.
Mr Monger, meanwhile, followed Gyorffy and managed to note his registration when he stopped to urinate in a driveway before continuing with a flat tyre and smashed wing mirror, still weaving across the road.
Gyorffy eventually pulled into a driveway in Maplin Close, Hungerford, to the surprise of the homeowner – retired police detective Trevor Wainwright.
Mr Wainwright saw the damage to the car and believed Gyorffy had been drinking or taking drugs.
Ms Davis said: “He was unsteady on his feet and smelled of alcohol.”
Alarmed, Mr Wainwright took his keys and told him to return to collect the badly damaged car in the morning.
But Gyorffy sneaked back and used a spare key to drive off, the court heard.
Mr Pennington’s shattered right arm is now held together with metal pins and he consequently has repetitive strain injury to his left.
A builder and father of two, he has been unable to work to this day and Ms Davis said: “He suffered significant financial consequences to the extent that he had to resort to selling personal belongings to get food.
“He still needs more medical treatment.”
Gyorffy admitted aggravated vehicle taking, dangerous driving, driving without insurance and driving otherwise than in accordance with a licence.
He has no previous convictions.
Michael Henderson, defending, conceded: “This was a wholly deplorable piece of driving from a person who had never driven before.
“Only the sidelights were on because he couldn’t find the main ones... he was unable to master the basic elements of driving.”
Gyorffy had taken his mother’s car without permission because he was in a “torrid emotional state” as a result of relationship troubles, the court heard.
Mr Henderson passed the judge character references from Gyorffy’s employer at the Co-op and from his mother Sally and brother Alex, while his father wrote that his son was a “good young adult who will positively contribute to society”.
Mr Henderson said: “He would be greatly adversely affected by an immediate custodial sentence.”
But Judge Paul Dugdale told Gyorffy: “Actions have consequences, I’m afraid.
“You were affected by alcohol... your driving was erratic and two witnesses thought you were drunk because you were veering from side to side and travelling too fast.
“During the drive home, one of your tyres went flat and the wing mirror which struck Mr Pennington was damaged.
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“It’s difficult to understand how you wouldn’t know you’d struck something.
“But you didn’t stop – you drove on.”
Judge Dugdale commended Mr Monger for his actions in following Gyorffy and getting his registration.
He added: “For the past year Mr Pennington hasn’t been able to work a day; he is in pain; he has gone into debt.
“His partner has left, taking the children with her.
“That moment ... has devastated his life.
“Because you didn’t have insurance it will make it incredibly difficult for him to make any claim.
“The consequences of your actions that night were devastating for poor Mr Pennington who was just walking home from the shops.”
Judge Dugdale went on: “It may be said you were quite lucky – had that car veered slightly further you would have killed Mr Pennington.
“A car is a deadly weapon.
“The danger to the community was significant and it would not be appropriate to suspend the sentence.”
Gyorffy was sentenced to 20 months in a Young Offender Institution, half of which he will serve in custody and half on licence in the community.
In addition, he was banned from driving for three years.