A Penryn College teacher was left with five broken ribs leaving her unable to guide her pupils through their GCSEs after a hit and run driver smashed into her car. 

Truro Magistrates Court heard that the driver responsible for the accident, Justin Sparkes, was unlicensed and uninsured to drive and had 16 previous convictions for driving whilst disqualified.

Sparkes, who lives in a caravan in a field near Penryn, had pleaded guilty to failing to stop after an accident, driving without insurance or a licence and driving without due care and attention in court last year but since then had been waiting for a pre-sentence report to be prepared.

Prosecutor Andrea Edwards told the court that on March 11, 2022 at around five to five, Sparkes was involved in a two car collision between his Mini and a Mazda driven by the textiles course teacher at Penryn College Lorriane Aonso.

Ms Edwards said both vehicles were badly damaged in the accident but instead of helping Miss Aonso, Sharpe drove off leaving her sitting on the grass verge cradling her injuries.

She told the court Sparkes had overtaken the Mazda waiting at the junction of Antron Hill and the A3954 and caused the accident.

She said a witness had previously seen Sparkes driving at excessive speeds in relation to the area and reported it.

In a victim impact statement read out in court, Miss Aonso said the accident had left her unable to work for five months.

She said the accident had broken five of her ribs, one in two places, and she was in hospital for four days.

The accident was extremely distressing, she said, and effected both her physical and mental health. It left her feeling very guilty that she couldn’t be with her pupils while they were doing their GCSEs.

She said she found it very hard to drive again because of the trauma of the accident. She couldn’t drive where the accident happened or on narrow roads where she might meet another vehicle.

She said if she saw another accident while she was driving or saw a roadside memorial she had an extreme reaction and had to pull over to control her breathing.

In her pre-sentence report the probation officer told the court that Sparkes had five previous convictions for drink driving, 12 for driving without insurance, three for driving without a licence, 16 convictions for driving whilst disqualified and one other conviction for failing to stop after an accident.

However she said his last offence had been in 2008 and he had not come before the courts since 2009 before he committed this new offence.

She said after talking to Sharpe she felt he genuinely wanted help in his life and a community order would help provide this.

Sparkes told the court his life had been “in the gutter for quite a while” before the accident happened and it was just hard to pull himself out it.

He couldn't access services such as a bank account or benefits because he had lived in a caravan for the past two years and was finding it hard to find work which had to be cash in hand.

“I feel terrible about what happened to that woman,” he said. “I need to sort my life out and probation will help.” He said he hadn’t driven since the accident.

The chair of the bench told Sparkes he should feel terrible about causing the accident which had caused the victim serious injuries, especially in light of his record.

Sparkes told the bench that the offences were committed when he was young and in and out of prison when he didn’t care about the consequences.

He said he’d got older and stopped doing it but now he needed help with his life. He said he had committed the offence when he was at a particularly low ebb whilst on his way to see his children in Falmouth.

He said he caught the bus everywhere now and his ex-partner picked him up and dropped him off when he saw his children and stepchildren at weekends.

Sentencing Sparkes to a 24 month community order for the failing to stop, magistrates said because of the seriousness of the offence he had come very close to going to prison but they were going to give him a chance and felt an order was more appropriate.

The community order also included 25 “activity” days working with the probation service and he was also ordered to complete 300 hours of unpaid work.

There was no separate penalty for the driving without insurance or a licence and driving without due care and attention.

He was disqualified from driving for 24 months and ordered to pay a surcharge of £95 and court costs of £85.