Author: Kate Buck
An illegal immigrant who caused a man to suffer life-changing injuries after crashing into him during a high-speed police chase has been jailed for three years. Gentjan Lalaj, originally from Albania but now living in Wembley, catapulted 27-year-old Tom Carey, from Kent, over a garden wall leaving him with a torn liver, a dislocated shoulder, a fractured kneecap and a broken nose. His injuries caused him to be in hospital for 12 days and prevented him from going to his grandfather’s funeral.
Roderick Blain, prosecuting, told Southampton Crown Court that 21-year-old Lalaj had failed to stop for police and led pursuing officers on a chase at speeds of 50mph along 30mph streets in Southampton on March 27 Mr Blain said: ‘He talks about night terrors, how he relives the incident and he describes how he suffers from panic attacks and anxiety when near to moving traffic.’
He added that Mr Carey had been unable to return to work or play his favourite sport of ice hockey. Lalaj, who was driving a stolen Volvo car, had claimed he was being chased by someone wishing to enact an Albanian blood feud against him avenging the death of someone apparently killed by a member of his family, but this defence was dismissed by the jury who found him guilty of causing serious injury by dangerous driving. He also pleaded guilty to driving without a licence or insurance.
In addition to his jail sentence he has been banned from driving for six-and-a-half years. Sentencing Lalaj, Judge Nicholas Rowland said: ‘The police were trying to stop you but they had to give up as you were driving so dangerously.
‘You drove in such a way as to cause those injuries to Mr Carey who, unlike you, was working hard. This has had a serious effect on his life both personally and at work.’ Unyime Davies, defending, said that Lalaj was remorseful and had told police: ‘I feel very, very bad for the man I hit.’ Police Constable Simon Bradbury, of Hampshire Police, said after the hearing that Lalaj had arrived illegally in the UK in the back of a lorry about 18 months ago.
Pc Bradbury added that cocaine and heroin was also found in the car, but Lalaj was cleared of possession of class A drugs with intent to supply. He said: “This is the one of the worst cases of dangerous driving I have seen in the last ten years. ‘This culminated in the horrifying collision with Mr Carey, who was extremely fortunate not to be killed.’ Responding to the sentence, Mr Carey said outside court: ‘I have been left with life-long injuries, he has got a lot less than I have got – it’s changed my life.’