A man who caused a crash near Stowmarket in which a teacher was critically injured has been given a suspended prison sentence.
John King, 78, blamed a medical condition for his apparent loss of consciousness as he approached a roundabout at Tot Hill, near Stowmarket.
He had pleaded not guilty to a charge of causing serious injury by dangerous driving but following a trial in August at Ipswich Crown Court a jury convicted him.
Mr Recorder Ian Evans today sentenced King to two years imprisonment suspended for two years.
In addition he will have to pay £10,000 compensation to former Bacton Middle School teacher Helen Hemy and will be disqualified from driving for three years.
Mr Recorder Evans told King that he will have to take an extended driving test at the conclusion of his driving ban if he wants to regain his licence.
The court heard how the collision on April 2 last year resulted in Mrs Hemy, who at the time taught at Bacton Middle, having to be airlifted to hospital.
Mrs Hemy twice had to be placed in an induced coma by doctors treating her during the 15 days she spent in Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Cambridge.
She suffered multiple rib fractures, a blood clot on her brain, internal bleeding, a punctured lung and had to have her spleen removed.
Mrs Hemy said in a statement read to the court that her injuries had been ‘life threatening’.
She said that she had been a passenger in a car being driven by her husband David on their way home after playing tennis in Stowmarket.
The prosecution said that King, of Witney Close, Ipswich, had failed to pull over on the A14 despite passing four laybys after feeling drowsy and then turning up a slip road to where the crash happened.
The jury were told by Christopher Paxton, prosecuting, that King said he had no memory of the accident.
Following his arrest he told police officers that he did remember turning off the A14 and before feeling ‘like a light had been switched off’.
King said he started feeling drowsy as he drove past Woolpit and decided to pull off at the Tot Hill service station to either have a sleep or buy a can of drink.
When interviewed about the cause of the collision, King had said: “I think it’s a medical problem that caused a loss of consciousness.”
However, King told the jury that he had not felt as if he was about to fall asleep while driving and said he would have pulled over and stopped if that had happened.
A police examination of King’s Lexus car found it to be in good condition and no evidence was found to show that he had either braked hard or attempted to steer away immediately before the impact, said Mr Paxton.