A DRIVER who caused a head-on crash that left a couple with serious injuries was likely to have been distracted by eating a packet of Frazzles.

Lawrence Walford was on the wrong side of the road as he drove his grey BMW around a blind bend on the A32 near West Meon on May 14, 2019.

He came face-to-face with a Toyota being driven by Richard Cousins and his wife Joanne in the passenger seat, Winchester Crown Court heard on Friday.

In a split-second Mr Cousins and Walford attempted to avoid a collision, but their actions failed.

Prosecuting, Charles Gabb told the court that Mrs Cousins, 52, came to immediately after the crash and thought her husband was dead.

“She started screaming at him and hitting him fortunately he responded so she knew he wasn’t dead,” Mr Gabb said.

The couple suffered serious injuries – Mrs Cousins still dealing with the pain of a broken back and ribs, and Mr Cousins, aged 61, suffering with pain in his leg from where the seatbelt ripped through his trousers on impact.

Minutes before the crash occurred Walford, of Popes Lane, Lower Upham, had gone to the Meon Hut Service Station, on the A32/A272 crossroads, where he bought petrol, sweets and a packet of Frazzles.

The court was told that eyewitness then saw the BMW being driven by the 48-year-old travelling on the wrong side of the road.

Walford then disappeared out of sight, but it is not known whether he returned to the correct carriageway at any point before the crash.

Following the crash police inspected the scene, including the father-of-three’s car, and Mr Gabb said: “There in the front passenger footwell was an open bag of Frazzles.

“The defendant having got back into his car wanted the crisps there and then. They were found to be on the floor.

“What he had been up to explains what is otherwise utterly inexplicable.”

Judge Hill, Assistant Judge Advocate General, was told that Walford was unconscious of the crash and has no memory of what took place. Walford had also not be drinking prior to the crash.

He pleaded guilty during an earlier hearing at crown court to two counts of causing injury by dangerous driving.

In mitigation, Thomas Evans said "He [Walford] and his fellow directors have had to take a significant pay cut because of the Covid-19 pandemic," adding that the family are currently facing hardship.

In sentencing, Judge Hill said the defendant “ought to feel greatly indebted” to the victims as they had said that they did not wish him to be given a custodial sentence.

Walford was given a 12-month sentence suspended for two years and has been disqualified from driving for two years. He must also pay £500 court costs.