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01st Dec 2022

Junior doctor ‘fell asleep’ at the wheel after 12-hour shift then mowed down two women and two kids

Steve Hopkins

‘I’ve not only lost my leg but my dreams, hopes and desires’

A junior doctor who “fell asleep” at the wheel after a 12-hour shift at a hospital before mowing down two women and leaving them with life-changing injuries has been jailed.

James Celaire told cops at the scene that he shouldn’t have driven home as his “eyes were going” and should have stayed in staff accommodation at the hospital.

The 25-year-old struck a mother and her two sons, aged four and six, as they waited to cross at a zebra crossing on their way to school on 9 December 2020.

Celaire also ploughed into another woman who was waiting at the crossing and flung her into a tree, just minutes after she had dropped her daughter off at school. One of the women had to have her leg amputated after the accident, and the other three victims all suffered serious fractures.

Celaire, who pled guilty to four offences of causing serious injury by dangerous driving, was jailed for two years and four months on Wednesday.

Bradford Crown Court heard how he was driving home from a 12-hour night shift when he left a line of cars and accelerated on the wrong side of the road.

Celaire admitted at the scene that he shouldn’t have driven home as his “eyes were going” and should have stayed in staff accommodation at the hospital instead.

His barrister, Sarah Barlow, said it was “overwhelmingly likely” that he had briefly falling asleep after finishing his shift at Bradford Royal Infirmary.

Prosecutor Chloe Fairley told the court that one of the mothers thought the Suzuki driver was “an impatient bad boy racer” and cried out for the children after she had been hit.

One of the women sustained life-changing injuries, including multiple facial fractures and a limb-threatening injury to her left leg. It was broken at the knee and ankle and despite multiple procedures she had it amputated on 5 January 2021.

In her victim statement she said that her “life changed forever that day”.

“This accident has turned my life upside down,” she said.

“I don’t want my children to think they will have to look after me when they get older.

“My heart is broken.

“I’ve not only lost my leg but my dreams, hopes and desires.”

The woman also opened about how she has sought psychiatric help, rarely leaves the house and was unsure if she would ever be able to work again.

Her six-year-old son suffered from a skull fracture and a fractured left leg that was in a frame for three months. Her four-year-old suffered from a fractured left tibia and the court heard how both of the youngsters may need further operations in the future.

The second woman sustained a fractured leg and shoulder injuries, and she also had a frame attached to her leg for a length period of time.

The court heard from the woman’s son, who said how her physical and mental health has been severely affected.

He also said that she constantly questions why it had happened to her and she wonders if she will ever feel comfortable crossing the road again. Another one of her family members said that suddenly there was no laughter in the house anymore, just silence.

Barlow conceded the devastating effect of the injuries and said Celaire, from Leeds, West Yorkshire, was “deeply and genuinely horrified” by what had happened.

He told his probation officer that he was more tired than what he appreciated, and had not taken any time out during his foundation year of working as a junior doctor.

Celaire has no previous convictions and character references showed that he was a man of exemplary good character.

Barlow also said how he had “always worked for caring people, mitigating harm rather causing it.”

He also returned to work knowing his career could be brought to an end by the accident. Judge Jonathon Rose said that Celaire was a man of previously impeccable good character and genuinely remorseful, but jailed him for two years and four months.

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