Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Driver jailed for Nether Wallop party marquee crash

Scene of the crash Image copyright Hampshire Constabulary
Image caption Peter Bialek crashed his Mercedes into the packed marquee

A man has been jailed for 16 months for crashing his Mercedes into a marquee, injuring 21 people.

Winchester Crown Court heard Peter Bialek was twice the drink-drive limit when he drove into a private ball - attended by 300 people - at a farm near Nether Wallop in Hampshire.

The 66-year-old, from Salisbury, admitted causing grievous bodily harm and furious driving.

Three people suffered serious injuries in the crash on 3 October.

Bialek was also banned from driving for two years and ordered to pay £750 court costs.

Image copyright Hampshire Constabulary
Image caption Bialek had been drinking when he took the wheel of the car

One victim, a 65-year-old woman, suffered a fractured ankle, her husband sustained three broken ribs and a 22-year-old woman had cuts to her legs.

The court heard that Bialek and his wife, who had not been drinking, decided to leave the event at 23:00 GMT but their car had been blocked in.

When his wife was unable to manoeuvre out of the space, Bialek took the wheel and careered 20 metres into the marquee, the court heard.

Charles Gabb, defending, said after Bialek stopped the car, he was dragged from the driver's seat and attacked.

'Reckless act'

Sentencing him, Mr Justice Teare said: "I have given considerable weight to your qualities as a human being, I accept that you are in every other respect a good man but the court has to balance the consequences of your actions that night and the injuries caused to over 20 people, three of whom suffered serious injuries, the effects of which will be with them for some time."

After the hearing, PC Stephen Johnson of Hampshire Constabulary said: "Bialek chose to get behind the wheel that night, despite having consumed alcohol.

"His reckless act of driving into the marquee left many people injured, some seriously, and could have been much worse.

"The sentence given today should serve as a reminder that driving whilst under the influence can have catastrophic consequences. It really is not worth the risk."

The event is understood to have been organised to raise money for a village hall and other charities.

Bialek, of London Road, entered guilty pleas to three counts of GBH without intent and a charge of causing bodily harm by wanton or furious driving at a hearing last month.

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