A WAREHOUSE worker has been jailed for crashing a lorry into a family car, leaving a baby girl with brain injuries.
Latvian Gendrihs Kuplovs-Okinskis, of Central Avenue, Southend, admitted dangerous driving.
He veered into the path of oncoming traffic and smashed into a Vauxhall Zafira car, driven off-duty policeman David Moon.
Mr Moon’s daughter Maisie, then just 15 months, suffered serious head injuries.
She was airlifted to Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Cambridge, for life-saving treatment and is still receiving physiotherapy and speech therapy nearly 18 months after the crash.
Mr Moon suffered a broken rib, and his other older daughter, Ella, suffered cuts and bruises in the crash.
Yesterday at Chelmsford Crown Court, Kuplovs- Okinskis was jailed for nine months and banned from driving for two years for causing the crash, in Coggeshall Road, Earls Colne, on September 6, 2012.
He claimed he was rusty when bosses at Peacock Foods, in Halstead, ordered him to drive the bread delivery lorry or lose his job.
Samantha Leigh, prosecuting, told the court Kuplovs-Okinskis had over-corrected after avoiding low-hanging branches, causing the accident. He was not speeding and the lorry was not found to have any defects.
Kuplovs-Okinskis’s lawyer, Shauna Ritchie, told the court her client had valid licences to drive HGVs in Latvia and in the UK, but had not driven a lorry for a significant period. He was pressed into service at short notice, the court heard.
Mrs Ritchie said: “He did not wish to drive as part of his employment.
“This is an unusual case of dangerous driving, because the bad driving was not prolonged, persistent, deliberate or aggressive.
“No sentence can compensate the Moon family for what they have been through, but custody will do no better.
“He says it was his mistake and one he will always regret. He should have said no to driving and taken the consequences himself.
“He genuinely struggles to live with what he has done.”
Judge John Dodd QC, addressing Kuplovs- Okinskis, said: “I accept you have expressed real and profound remorse for your actions and the consequences.
“You made the fateful decision to take the wheel of a lorry at the insistence of your employer, and the prosecution and the defence agree youwere placed under inappropriate pressure.”