Drug-driver jailed for causing high speed crash which left Hailsham man with serious injuries

A man from Hailsham driving a tractor near Lewes was left with temporary sight loss when a drug-driver crashed into him.

Thursday, 22nd April 2021, 4:19 pm

Harry Dennis, 21 and of Maple Close in Maresfield, was driving the black BMW 330 that crashed into the tractor and trailer on the B2192 The Broyle just before 6pm on May 18 last year, police said.

According to police, the tractor driver, a 41-year-old man from Hailsham, had been turning left into Half Mile Drove near Lewes when the BMW hit him.

The impact caused the tractor to overturn and left the driver with serious facial injuries and temporary sight loss, said police.

Photo from Sussex Police SUS-210422-160424001

Police said Dennis was taken to hospital with serious injuries and blood tests showed a level of cannabis in his system which was over the legal limit.

Police investigations found Dennis had reached speeds of 120mph on the 60mph limit stretch of road and overtaken a Honda Civic just before the collision.

CCTV and witness statements proved both vehicles were travelling at speed and in convoy with one another, despite Dennis denying racing with the Honda.

The Honda driver, now revealed to be 22-year-old Danny Stiller of Hadlow Down, left the scene before emergency services arrived. He called 999 and said he witnessed the collision, but then provided a signed witness statement to police which said he didn’t see what had happened, police say.

Photo from Sussex Police SUS-210422-160404001

According to police, Dennis was summonsed to court to face charges of causing serious injury by dangerous driving and driving under the influence of drugs. Stiller was also summonsed to court to face charges of dangerous driving, causing serious injury by dangerous driving and perverting the course of justice.

Dennis admitted he was at fault and too inexperienced to drive the BMW, which he’d only bought the day before, police say.

Police say Dennis pleaded guilty to both offences, and at Lewes Crown Court on 20 April he was sentenced to 16 months’ imprisonment. He was also disqualified from driving for two years and eight months.

Stiller pleaded guilty to dangerous driving and was sentenced to four months’ imprisonment – suspended for 18 months – and disqualified from driving for 12 months. He is also required to carry out 80 hours of unpaid work and is subject to an electronic tag for three months, police say.

However, according to police, Stiller was found not guilty of causing serious injury by dangerous driving, and the offence of perverting the course of justice is to lie on file.

Investigating officer PC Tom Van Der Wee, of the Sussex Roads Policing Unit, who attended the scene, said, “Although the defendants pleaded guilty and received credit for this, neither were willing to provide an honest account or take responsibility for their actions.

“Stiller denied that he or Dennis were driving dangerously and denied seeing the crash – despite us having a recording of the 999 call he made to the ambulance service where he admitted to seeing the whole thing.

“Dennis blamed the crash on a momentary lapse of concentration and said he was travelling at just over the speed limit. We were able to prove that he was deliberately driving at speeds far far in excess of the speed limit – up to 120mph – just before losing control and crashing into the victim who was a tractor driver simply going about his business.

“Although the tractor driver sustained significant injuries, the outcome could have been much worse for both him, the occupants of the racing vehicles and indeed other completely innocent members of the public. Both defendants can count themselves lucky they didn’t kill themselves or anyone else with their selfish and mindless actions.

“I am pleased the court has recognised the severity of what they did and didn’t do, and now both defendants have the chance to do some serious growing up before getting behind the wheel of a car again.

“I’d like to take this opportunity to express my sincere thanks and gratitude to the members of public who came forward following our witness appeal, and the expert witness who determined the speed of the vehicles from the CCTV footage. As a result, we were able to piece together a jigsaw of the defendants’ driving leading up to the collision, which has helped secure their convictions and take them both off the roads.”