A traveller who appeared on Channel 4’s My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding series has been jailed for 13 months after he admitted causing a horror smash on the M1 roundabout near Northampton.
James Ward, aged 45, flipped his BMW onto its roof after he drove up the slip road of the motorway at an estimated speed of 100mph while driving drunk and uninsured.
As a result of the crash, one of the tyres came off the vehicle and smashed through the windscreen of a car containing a mother and her three-year-old son.
Jeremy Janes, prosecuting at Northampton Crown Court, said the woman was left covered in glass and concerned for the welfare of her child.
Mr Janes said: “The woman suffered a laceration of a cornea which has left her with permanent blurred vision and also suffered cuts to her head and abdomen.”
Mr Janes said the woman and her three-year-old son, who was not physically injured, had suffered psychological distress since the crash.
He said the woman had only just been able to start driving again and she had taken her son to a counsellor as he had become very anxious after the crash.
The court heard that police officers had indicated for Ward to stop his vehicle, shortly before the crash, when he was parked at the Watford Gap services.
However, Ward sped away from the police car and crashed his BMW on the M1 roundabout at the next junction.
Ward, from Mannock Way, Leighton Buzzard, pleaded guilty to causing a serious injury, driving while disqualified and without insurance.
Ward, whose car contained empty beer cans, was also found to be over the drink drive limit as he gave officers a blood alcohol reading of 102 microgrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood. The legal limit is 80 microgrammes.
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, 21, 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.
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.
John Carmichael, mitigating said: “My client feels real grief and remorse for what he has done.
“He told me he will have to live with what he has done for the rest of his life.”
Judge Rupert Mayo, sentencing, said it was a “ghastly accident” after Ward failed to heed the police warnings to stop his vehicle.
Ward was sentenced to 12 months in jail for dangerous driving and one month, to be served consecutively, from driving whilst disqualified.
He was banned from driving for three years.