A DRINK-DRIVER who drove on the wrong side of the road near Chester and smashed into another car head-on, seriously injuring a 72-year-old passenger, has been jailed.

Victoria Sharp, 53, of Burwardsley Road, Tattenhall, had been drinking at CarFest that day and later had a family row which led to her taking vodka and painkillers before driving at speed on Bolesworth Road on July 27, 2019.

The driver of the oncoming car saw Sharp's Mini coming round a bend and tried to avoid a collision by stopping and pulling over as far into a hedge as possible, but the cars collided.

Judge Patrick Thompson, sentencing Sharp at Chester Crown Court on Thursday, August 6, said it was "a miracle" that no-one was killed as a result.

However, a 72-year-old female passenger in the car hit by Sharp's Mini was seriously injured, with multiple fractures to the ribs, vertebrae and sternal wall, requiring her to be in a whole body cast and bed-ridden for two months.

Sharp had earlier pleaded guilty at crown court to causing serious injury by dangerous driving, and to drink-driving.

Prosecuting, Frances Willmott said it was 9pm on July 27 when the victim's family were travelling back home from a meal at the Bickerton Poacher and were aware traffic would be high in the area as CarFest was on that weekend on the Bolesworth Estate.

The driver saw a car "careering towards them on the wrong side of the road" and was travelling at such a speed it was almost "skating" on the surface.

Witnesses heard a vehicle travelling "at high speed...like a bullet whooshing past", before hearing a loud bang, and thought there had a big accident and the driver had died.

The victim's family emerged from the car, but the 72-year-old passenger felt "horrendous pain all through her chest" and "could barely breathe", and there was concern the car could catch fire.

There had been five people in the car – the injured victim, the driver and her husband, and two children aged 11 and 13.

Sharp was the only person in her car. She said: "I can't be here, I have only just got my licence back. The police are going to come and arrest me, I have had a massive row with my family."

When police arrived, Sharp took a turn for the worse and she was taken to hospital.

A blood sample was taken and, when assessed three months later, found 127 milligrammes of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood, compared to the legal limit of 80.

The victim had to spend six days in intensive care for what doctors described as "extensive injuries".

In a victim impact statement, made in January, she said she had been "pretty much house-bound" since the collision.

She was "totally dependent" on her family, had wondered if the pain would ever end, and had become "frail", worrying she may fall over.

Sharp had one previous conviction, for drink-driving in March 2018, for which she received a 12-month driving ban.

Defending, Robert Lancaster said Sharp had suffered significant injuries herself in the collision.

She was a lady of "low self esteem" who had suffered childhood trauma and a series of setbacks in her personal circumstances.

"Her remorse is genuine and heartfelt and she put this apology through me today," Mr Lancaster told the court.

Sharp had no intention of driving that day but had gone with her sister to CarFest, had drunk alcohol, and there was an argument which, after walking home, escalated into a family row.

Sharp left, having taken a strip of painkillers and vodka, and got behind the wheel.

Judge Thompson said while it was accepted Sharp's emotional state had been affected, a pre-sentence psychiatric report had concluded there was "no evidence that her mental health dictated her decisions that day."

Mr Lancaster added a custodial sentence, if imposed, would have an impact on Sharp's mother, as Sharp provided day-to-day care for her.

Sharp was also classed as "extremely high risk" for Covid-19 and had been shielding since March.

Judge Thompson said if the driver of the car with the victim had not taken evasive action, "the consequences could have been even more serious", and it was "a miracle" nobody was killed, and that only one person was injured, albeit seriously.

He told Sharp: "You took an incredibly selfish decision. You were only concerned with your own position. It seems you were well aware of the danger around. There was a total disregard for others.

"Only 16 months before this, you were before magistrates for driving with excess alcohol.

"You took that conscious decision to drive that day when you had already had a warning. That aggravates the matter significantly."

The judge added only an immediate custodial sentence was appropriate.

Judge Thompson reduced the sentence for Sharp's guilty plea and taking into account the current coronavirus pandemic making prison sentences more difficult than usual.

As well as the two-year sentence, Sharp was banned from driving for six years, taking into account the first of those years will be spent in custody.

Following sentencing, Police Constable Heather Cotterill of the Roads and Crime Unit said: “I welcome the sentence that has been passed to Sharp by the courts.

“This incident nearly cost the lives of three generations of the same family and could have resulted in tragic circumstances.

“I hope that the sentence will be of some comfort to those involved and bring some closure to the victim and their family.”