A traveller caused a horror smash while driving along the M1 on a failed mission to hunt down his son’s murderers.
James Ward, whose family was featured on featured on Channel 4’s My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding series last year, flipped his BMW on its roof while driving drunk and uninsured.
The 40-year-old was seen by members of the public drenched in blood leaving Watford Gap service station in Northamptonshire.
Police were alerted and followed him, and he subsequently crashed his car just off junction 15 on the A45 roundabout.
The crash caused serious injuries to a woman and a child who had to be airlifted to hospital.
Ward, from Mannock Way, Leighton Buzzard, pleaded guilty to several driving offences when he appeared at Northampton Crown Court today (Friday, January 3).
In mitigation, the court heard how, in the early 1990s Ward had becoming involved in a long-running dispute between members of his family.
He had ended up killing one of them, and pleaded guilty to manslaughter, serving four years in jail.
A huge rift was created between different branches of the Ward family.
In an apparent revenge attack in April last year, Ward’s son Thomas, 20, was murdered on the steps of his own caravan at Dyes Lane Traveller Site, Stevenage, just five days after the birth of his daughter Lily.
In a Crimewatch appeal, police said they want to trace Thomas’s second cousin John Boy Ward, 32, and his wife Joleen, 21 in connection with the murder but there have been no arrests.
Thomas’s funeral was seen on a My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding spin-off about christenings in October. Devastated members of his family including his father were seen mourning him at his graveside.
Just days after the shooting, a cousin Lulu Ward had been drinking with family and friends in a nearby pub and had attempted to drive home. After stopping on the A1(M) she tried to cross it and was hit by a car. She died instantly.
It was after this series of tragedies that, on May 25, James Ward heard the suspects in his son’s killing were hiding in Coventry.
He drove there try to find them, but was involved in an altercation and he received ‘significant’ injuries.
On his way home, he stopped at Watford Gap Services and was seen drenched in blood by members of the public who reported their concerns to police.
Officers followed him along the motorway but he crashed at the A45 junction.
He was found to be over the drink drive limit, was disqualified and was uninsured to drive his 2010-plate BMW.
In mitigation, his barrister Mr Jones told His Honour Judge Mayo: “Mr Ward accepts that he should not have been driving at the time.
“He has expressed remorse and accepts full culpability.
“Mr Ward has been in a very difficult place given the circumstances.
“He can’t explain how the accident happened. He was heard to say at the hospital how he didn’t want his own life to continue.”
The court heard how Ward had received bereavement counselling and he had also split up with his wife.
He pleaded guilty to four offences of his driving causing serious injury, of driving while disqualified, driving with excess alcohol and driving with no insurance.
Disqualifying Ward from driving immediately, Judge Mayo adjourned the case for a pre-sentence report to be prepared, but told Ward: “It’s most likely you’ll go to prison.
“You caused most unpleasant and shocking injuries to a woman and a child.”
You can see video of the aftermath of the crash here.