A driver who caused a head-on crash that left a man and two children with serious injuries was told it was “good fortunate no one was killed”.

Jailing Thomas Grey for 26 months, Judge Jason Taylor QC said of the 25-year-old’s decision to overtake two vehicles on a blind bend five days after Christmas: “It was a grave error of judgement with severe consequences.”

Swindon Crown Court heard Grey, who was driving a Mitsubishi Space Star, was on his way to pick up his wife at around 7.30am on December 30, 2019, when he came up behind off-duty police officer Ben Collier.

The pair were on Wharf Road, heading towards Junction 16 from Wroughton. In a statement, Mr Collier, who was driving to work, said it was a dark and misty morning.

The police officer was behind a Citroen Berlingo van, which was doing around 40mph – 10mph below the speed limit - as the weather conditions were relatively poor.

Mr Collier said he became aware of Grey’s car behind him. There was nothing in the man’s driving to cause the officer concern, with Grey staying around 20m behind him.

As they approached a blind bend on the winding country road, Grey overtook the officer who slowed – sensing there might be a crash. The Mitsubishi – still on the wrong-side of the road - tried to get past the small van, but came face-to-face with a Toyota Aygo being driven in the opposite direction.

Grey’s brake lights flashed momentarily before his car crashed straight into the oncoming Toyota. Both cars were travelling at an estimated 45mph to 50mph.

The Mitsubishi driver fractured two ribs and cracked his breastbone in the crash, although was seen by Mr Collier getting out of his own car and checking on the other casualties. A girl travelling in one of the cars suffered a broken eye socket, while another girl broke her left arm. The girls cannot be identified for legal reasons.

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Thomas Grey outside Swindon Magistrates' Court 

The driver of the Toyota shattered his right elbow in the collision and a laceration to his right knee resulted in a large piece of bone splitting off. His legs were trapped and he had to be cut free by firefighters.

Mr Collier called 999 and attended to those injured in the incident. An off-duty firefighter arrived to help.

The incident was captured on a dashboard camera installed in Grey’s own car.

In a victim personal statement, read to the court by prosecutor Ian Fenny, the driver of the Toyota said he had been left angry at being the innocent victim of an “entirely avoidable crash”. Mr Fenny said: “He describes his sense of loneliness, how he wanted to call his girlfriend.”

Interviewed by police, Grey likened the decision to overtake to a moment of madness.

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Thomas Grey's custody shot Picture: WILTSHIRE POLICE

Grey, of St Andrew’s Court, Wroughton, pleaded guilty at the magistrates’ court to three counts of causing serious injury by dangerous driving. He was a man of previous good character.

Defending, Emily Heggadon said her client had worked for the same kitchen manufacturer since he was 16 and was highly valued by the firm.

He was supported by his family and was deeply remorseful for causing the crash and had offered to pay compensation to his adult victim and offered his apologies to the man. He had not driven since the day of the incident and was said to suffer from poor mental health.

Sentencing him to two years and two months’ imprisonment, Judge Taylor said: “That is just outside the range where it is suspendable, but I make it plan even if it had been within the range, I would have formed the view where three people had been seriously injured, two of whom were children, appropriate punishment could only be achieved by immediate custody.”

He added: “It is your good fortune that no one was killed.” The judge commended the efforts of off-duty officer Ben Collier.

Grey was banned from driving for three years and must pass an extended retest if he wants to get behind the wheel.

Officer in the case PC Jonathan Brunt welcomed the sentence: “This significant sentence reflects the seriousness of this offence.

“On December 30, 2019, Thomas Grey decided to conduct an overtake in a dangerous manner without a clear view of the road ahead, showing complete disregard for the safety of other road users.

“This resulted in serious injuries being caused to two young children and the driver of the Toyota Aygo. There is never an excuse for driving in this way, the moment of madness, as described by Thomas Grey and the judge hearing the case, has resulted in life changing consequences for many of those involved.”