Nurse who caused £80k of damage to Desborough dream home spared jail after judge hears how he had saved a child's life

'You went to work every day not knowing whether you were going to live or die. But you still went.'

Tuesday, 6th July 2021, 5:00 am
Katie and Jack Walther with their damaged home. Image: Andrew Carpenter.
Katie and Jack Walther with their damaged home. Image: Andrew Carpenter.

A judge told a nurse who crashed his car while trying to deal with the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic that he would not send him to jail because he is an 'enormous asset to society.'

Northampton Crown Court heard that Zimbabwean Simba Chimba, 26, had moved to the UK and successfully studied to become a nurse. He'd even been given a Smile award for saving the life of a child.

But at 1am on May 13 last year, struggling with the worry of bringing Covid home from his nursing job to his mother, he went for a late-night drive to sit on a park bench and had a drink.

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Some of the damage inside the house. Image: Andrew Carpenter.

With his mind on the pandemic, he made the fatal mistake of getting back behind the wheel, before he lost control and crashed into a newly-built house in Dunkirk Avenue, Desborough, causing damage worth £78,796.

The occupants, builder Jack and Paramedic Katie Walther heard the dreadful noise and discovered Chimba's silver Mercedes had smashed into the side of the dream self-built house that they had just completed after two years of hard work. The court was told the entire kitchen had moved by three inches.

Mercifully, their two young boys stayed sleeping and were uninjured. Katie went out to help Chimba, of Church View Road, Desborough, and stayed with him until the emergency services arrived.

The court heard that a passer-by estimated Chimba's speed to be between 60mph and 70mph on the 30mph-limit road.

Although an initial roadside breath test was just on the limit, a later test showed Chimba had not been over the drink-drive limit at the time of the crash.

He pleaded guilty to a single charge of dangerous driving.

Mitigating, barrister Liam Muir, said that the incident was completely out of character for his client. A reference from his employer detailed an incident where Chimba had taken extraordinary steps to save a patient's life, earning him an award.

"He's a young man who is disgusted with his actions," said Mr Muir.

"When I spoke to him he asked me how he could get in touch with the victims to say sorry.

"In terms of rehabilitation, there's never a greater candidate than the one who sits before you.

"The amount he gives back to the community is immense."

At Friday's (June 2) hearing, Recorder Michael Auty QC said: "This was a dreadfully serious offence.

"I hope I don't need to set out to you how easily it could have been that you killed people including young children.

"Anybody reading about this or hearing about it would think that this is the kind of offence that has to result in you going to prison immediately.

"The home you crashed into was the home of a paramedic. Her immediate instinct was to help you, and that's an instinct you will recognise because it's one that you share."

Recorer Auty explained to the court how Chimba had told him he had come here from Zimbabwe and worked hard to gain his nursing qualifications before getting a job.

"You're a credit to your profession and when you do your job you save the lives of other people," he said.

"On one hand you could have killed someone and on the other you're an enormous asset to society.

"Despite your comparative lack of experience you saved a child's life by being bright and engaged and enthusiastic.

The court was told that the incident had happened on May 13, about six weeks after the start of lockdown.

Recorded Auty added: "You went to work every day not knowing whether you were going to live or die. But you still went.

"You weren't simply concerned for yourself, you lived with your mother and you were equally worried that while your life was in jeopardy at work you might take home this pernicious disease to her and you might be responsible for killing her.

"You found yourself sitting on a park bench doing nothing more than thinking with a couple of cans and then because of the state you were in emotionally you went for a drive.

"£78,000 of damage is an awful lot of damage but you do an awful lot of good and I don't believe that anyone looking at the whole facts of this case would expect me to send you to prison.

Sentencing Chimba to nine months in prison, suspended for two years, Recorded Auty added: "I don't believe for one moment this court will ever see you again."

Chimba will also have to complete ten rehabilitation requirement days and was disqualified from driving for 12 months.