Drug driver crashes into tree leaving mum with life-changing injuries


A drug driver, who was high on cocaine, lost control of his vehicle at 75 mph and collided with a tree and lamppost, leaving a young mum with life-changing injuries.

Michael Zainne Francis, 33, walked away from the incident with just bruising.

But his young female passenger, 21, suffered multiple fractures, two collapsed lungs, bleeding on the brain, damage to her liver, pancreas, and a kidney, and suffered a stroke, and spent two months in hospital.

Following the incident, South Wales Police’s roadside officers said that the injuries suffered by the passenger are the worst they have ever seen in a crash where the victim survived.

In a statement, which was read out to Swansea Crown Court, the victim described the life-changing impact her injuries have had on her and her family, North Wales Live writes.

She said that her daughter had almost lost her mum in the crash, and it was only the need to be there for her little girl that kept her going.

Swansea Crown Court heard Francis failed a roadside test for cocaine following the smash but refused to give a sample of blood for analysis.

Sending him down a judge said even while his passenger was seriously injured in hospital the defendant had not been man enough to own up to what he had done and was only thinking only about himself.

Brian Simpson, prosecuting, said the crash happened on the entrance to the village of Pontlliw in the early hours of August 12 last year.

The speed limit where the crash happened is 30mph.

Mr Simpson said 33-year-old Francis had driven his female passenger to the McDonald’s drive-thru in Penllergaer to buy food, stopping at the Cross service station on Swansea Road the way to buy petrol.

Staff working at both these premises formed the impression the defendant was under the influence of substances due to his behavior and the way he was speaking.

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South Wales Police said the injuries suffered by the passenger are the worst they have ever seen in a crash where the victim survived
South Wales Police said the injuries suffered by the passenger are the worst they have ever seen in a crash where the victim survived

The court heard that as Francis’ VW Scirocco sped along the A48 on approach to Pontlliw the driver took a bend on the wrong side of the road then left the carriageway and slammed into a tree and a lamppost.

The prosecutor said such was the force of the impact, the entire passenger side of the car was “effectively torn away”. Other motorists who arrived on the scene moments later used their cars to block the road, and rank 999.

The court heard the passenger of the Scirocco was laying on the road while Francis was seen to be wandering around asking for his phone charger and appearing “high as a kite” and “out of it”.

The court heard crash investigators subsequently found the speedometer in the VW was frozen at 75mph, and that there were no signs of any emergency braking or evasive manoeuvres having been undertaken in the moments before impact.

The court heard Francis failed a roadside test for cocaine and then became aggressive with the officers who were dealing with him, spitting on the face of one and threatening to “bite his face off”.

He was taken to hospital where he refused to allow his blood to be tested. A subsequent search of the defendant’s house uncovered a so-called zombie knife and a knuckleduster, both of which are illegal to own.

Meanwhile the female casualty was treated at the scene before being taken to the University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff.

The court heard she suffered fractures to her pelvis, thigh, arms, and back, two collapsed lungs, internal bleeding, injuries to her liver, pancreas, and a kidney, and bleeding on the brain, and that she subsequently suffered a stroke which has impaired her mobility and vision.

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She underwent nine separate operations, and was in hospital for a total of two months.

In a statement which was read to the court, the victim described the physical and emotional injuries she suffered in the smash, and the life-changing impact they have had on and her family.

She said her daughter had almost lost her mam in August last year, and it was only the need to be there for her little girl that kept her going.

Francis, of Iscoed Road, Hendy, had previously pleaded guilty to causing serious injury by dangerous driving, assaulting a police officer, failing to provide a specimen for analysis, and two counts of possessing an offensive weapon in a private place when he appeared in the dock for sentencing.

He has 18 previous convictions for 27 offenses including driving with excess alcohol, driving while unfit through drink or drugs, driving while disqualified, robbery, and drug trafficking.

David Singh, for Francis, said the defendant recognized the terrible impact his behavior had had on his passenger, and said the only real mitigation he could offer were the guilty pleas.

Judge Geraint Walters said Francis had clearly been under the influence of substances when he decided to get behind the wheel of “a potentially weapon weapon”.

He said in his years as a barrister and a judge he had never seen a car suffer so much damage in a crash in which people survived – adding it was “nothing short of a miracle” that nobody had been killed.

The judge noted that even as Francis knew his passenger was seriously ill in hospital he had refused to allow a sample of his blood to be tested, and that “self-preservation” was his main thought.

He added that the maximum sentence for causing serious injury by dangerous driving was five years in prison before any discount for a guilty plea, a maximum which he and many others thought was not long enough.

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With a discount for his guilty pleas Francis was sentenced to three years and four months for the driving offense and two months for assaulting the police officer to run consecutively making an overall sentence of three-and-a-half years.

He was sentenced to three months for each of the two weapon offenses and to two months for failing to provide a sample, all to run concurrently with each other and with the lead sentence.

The defendant will serve up to half the three-and-a-half years in custody before being released on license to serve the remainder in the community.

Francis was banned from driving for a total of six years and eight months, and must pass an extended test before he can get his license back.

Speaking after the sentencing, South Wales Police roads policing officers said the injuries suffered by the passenger were the worst they have ever seen in a collision where the victim survived.

Senior investigating officer detective sergeant Lee Christer said: “Michael Francis’s reckless actions that day left a young female with horrific life-changing injuries.

“If it wasn’t for the quick response from officers and emergency services at the scene, and the expert medical care she received from the staff at University Hospital Wales, I’m not sure she would’ve survived.

“I hope this sentence affords Francis the opportunity to reflect on the gravity of what he has done. I also hope it sends a strong message to other motorists and encourages them to think when they get behind the wheel.

“Speeding and driving under the influence of drugs are two of the leading factors in serious and fatal collisions in Wales, and when driven recklessly and irresponsibly, cars can be lethal weapons as this case has so tragically.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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