Thursday, January 10, 2013
A DRUNKEN motorist who caused a head-on collision leaving the other driver seriously injured has escaped an immediate jail sentence after police took nearly six years to arrest him.
Judge James Sampson said “police incompetence” was a factor in the delay in bringing Renatas Bartisius, of March, to justice and suspended his sentence instead of sending him straight to prison.
Bartisius had been drinking at a friend’s house in Spalding when he got behind the wheel of his car back in May 2007.
Gregor Purcell, prosecuting, told Lincoln Crown Court that Bartisius drove onto the A151 at Weston, near Spalding, and began veering onto the wrong side of the road.
Other motorists were alarmed at the manner of his driving and the motorist immediately behind Bartisius pulled back.
As Bartisius approached a staggered junction at a right-hand bend he began to overtake the car in front of him.
He accelerated to 70mph and went onto the wrong side of the road and going the wrong side of keep left bollards, directly into the path of oncoming traffic.
Bartisius failed to complete the overtaking manoeuvre and collided head-on with an oncoming car.
Mr Purcell said “The oncoming car was knocked to the side of the road and spun. The defendant’s vehicle carried on down and spun into the centre of the road. The other driver had no opportunity to avoid the defendant’s vehicle.”
Both men were trapped in their vehicles. Bartisius was lapsing in and out of consciousness and overheard to be saying “big trouble”. He became aggressive and agitated when ambulance staff tried to remove him from his car.
The innocent driver was so badly injured he was off work for six months. His injuries included a fractured vertebrae and damage to a knee he had recently had replaced in an earlier operation.
Bartisius was also detained in hospital. Police only took the decision to charge him seven months after the accident. They were then unable to find him but did not make what the court was told were “obvious checks” with the Inland Revenue and Department of Work & Pensions.
At one point his name was circulated as wanted but this was cancelled only to be later reinstated when the officer investigating the driving matter discovered what had happened.
Bartisius, who had been living and working in the UK throughout the period, was eventually arrested in August after returning to the UK from a holiday abroad.
Bartisius, 43, of Willowherb Close, March, admitted dangerous driving on May 13 2007. He was given an eight-month jail sentence suspended for 12 months with a £1,000 fine and £670 prosecution costs. He was also banned from driving for two years.
Neil Sands, mitigating, said that since the incident Bartisius had committed no further offences although he had continued to live and work in this country.
Judge Sampson told Mr Sands: “Ordinarily your client would have received a sentence of immediate imprisonment. However, I’m not satisfied that the delay is your client’s fault.
“There is here a degree of police incompetence mixed in perhaps with a measure of evasion by your client.”
Addressing Bartisius, the judge added: “Undoubtedly you were drunk and not in a fit and proper state to drive any vehicle. You drove directly into your victim who was doing absolutely nothing wrong.”