A CHILD minder was responsible for a horrific nine-car smash on a Hampshire motorway that left another motorist with severe head injuries, a court has ruled.

Charlotte Gardiner, 20, was convicted of careless driving after the pile-up which left two cars on their roofs and the westbound carriageway of the M27 between Hedge End and Eastleigh being closed for about ten hours.

David Kirk, a supermarket warehouse worker, from Bitterne, Southampton, spent four weeks in intensive care fighting for his life following the crash last October.

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Southampton magistrates heard that Gardiner, of Buttercup Lane, Hedge End, lost control of her black Ford Fiesta, which she had owned for about a month, because she was chatting to her front seat passenger about text messages the latter was sending and receiving and not concentrating on the road.

Magistrates were told how she swerved to her left, hit the nearside barrier, rebounded onto the three-lane carriageway to hit the opposite barrier. Gardiner claimed she had swerved to avoid a car that suddenly cut in front of her.

Imposing a fine of £175 with £200 costs, magistrates’ chairman Ivy Fisher said: “Having considered all the evidence very carefully, we consider the manner of your driving fell below that of a proven driver because your response to the presence of the other vehicle was inappropriate which resulted in you losing control of your vehicle.”

Gardiner said she was doing about 65-70mph in the middle lane when she saw a car on her inside, which suddenly cut in front of her. She also thought she saw an object on the road and swerved to her left to avoid crashing into the vehicle.

In mitigation, David Harby, defending, said she had suffered bruising and whiplash and her car was written off.

Gardiner’s front-seat passenger, student Purying Tang said they had spent about three hours that evening in the Hampshire Boulevard pub in Portsmouth. As Gardiner drove her home to Romsey, she text messages to friends on their phones.

She said neither of them had drunk anything alcoholic that night and Gardiner had not used her mobile phone.

After the hearing, Mr Kirk – who spent six weeks in hospital, including four in a coma in intensive care – told the Daily Echo he was still unable to drive, could only work three days a week and suffered from fatigue. “Only time will tell whether I will make a full recovery.”

Scrapped His wife, Georgina, had been due to finish her nursing job on a cardiac high depency unit at Southampton General Hospital the day after the accident for promotion to the intensive care ward at the Royal Hampshire County Hospital, Winchester, but that had to be scrapped and she had been forced to reduce her hours to help look after their young daughter.