'Lives have been ruined': Three crushed against police van after drunken horror smash in Wakefield, court is told

A drunken woman who had been downing shots of vodka smashed her car into three people in Wakefield city centre, crushing them against a police van and causing catastrophic injuries.

Monday, 8th November 2021, 1:43 pm

A police officer had been speaking with two revellers outside the Black Horse pub on Westgate in the early hours of July 11 this year when Karolina Serafin suddenly careered into them in her Renault Megane, Leeds Crown Court was told today.

The injuries caused were so severe, two of the victims - including a mother-of-two - had to be resuscitated at the scene and both lost a leg.

The police officer also suffered serious leg injuries but surgeons were able to avoid amputation in his case.

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Serafin, a 25-year-old Polish national, admitted three counts of causing serious injury through dangerous driving.

Prosecutor Andrew Dallas said that Serafin had gone to a flat in Alverthorpe Road hours before the smash, where she had been drinking neat vodka.

After heading to a party at a neighbour's house, she drank more but got into an argument with the householder.

She was described a slurring, unsteady on her feet and "all over the place" when she then grabbed her car keys and got behind the wheel.

Investigators found that she had set her satnav system in her phone to an address in the Pontefract area moments before she set off.

CCTV played to the court showed her heading along Alverthorpe Road and onto Westgate. She took the bend wide and veered into the kerb.

She was travelling at an average of nearly 38 mph on the 30 mph stretch.

At this time, the police Mercedes Sprinter police van had pulled up at the kerb outside the Black Horse pub on Westgate because of a minor disturbance.

The officer got out and spoke to a woman and man with all three stood just in front of the van.

Chilling body camera footage taken from the police officer was shown to the court at the moment the Megane collided with them, followed by screams.

Serafin suffered head injuries herself and failed to provide a roadside breath test. However, she did four hours later and was still more than twice the legal limit.

The road was shut for most of the that day as investigators pieced together the evidence.

The heartfelt impact statements of the three victims were read out to the court.

The 30-year-old man, who had to be resuscitated at the roadside, said he woke up hours later in Leeds General Infirmary and was horrified to see that his leg had been amputated.

He fears he may spend the rest of his life in a wheelchair and has suffered depression and thoughts of suicide as a result.

The woman, who is 31, spent five weeks in hospital and her leg was also beyond saving. She was resuscitated twice by the roadside and was put into a coma.

She says she is being forced to leave her home and move into a bungalow and she is currently unable to look after her two children.

She said she feels "nothing but anger" towards Serafin for her actions.

Finally, the serving police officer who also suffered serious leg injuries and is still unable to walk properly. He is uncertain if he will ever be able to return to active duty.

He said: "Three people's lives have been ruined as a result of this event."

The court heard that while Serafin, of Tenby Grove, Worksop, Nottinghamshire had no previous convictions, she had two speeding fines in the months before the crash.

During interview with police she said she could not remember what had happened, but admitted to drinking.

Mitigating, Edel Speirits said: "She wishes to express her regret and remorse for her actions that night.

"Sadly, however much she would like to turn the clock back, she can't.

"She accepts the full impact she has caused physically and emotionally to all three victims."

Miss Speirits said that Serafin had got in the car after saying she had experienced an unwanted sexual advance earlier in the evening and she simply wanted to flee the situation.

She added: "She does not ask for forgiveness, because she can't forgive herself."

Judge Robin Mairs told her: "You caused a collision in the centre of Wakefield that affected the lives of three people in the most cruel and permanent way.

"It was blindingly obvious that you we unfit to drive even in your condition.

"You showed an utter and callous disregard for the safety of anyone else on the roads that evening.

"It was caused by your drunkenness alone."

He jailed her for the maximum he could - 44 months - which included a reduction for her guilty pleas.

She was banned her from driving for seven years and 10 months.

Judge Mairs added: "It may seem a paltry term, bearing in mind the devastation you have caused.

"The effects of your actions will live longer than any sentence I impose.

"Given what you have done to their lives, there is no sentence that will compensate for the pain you have caused."