Driver who hit soldiers is banned

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(First Edition)

A LEARNER-DRIVER who crippled a soldier and badly injured several others when he ploughed into a column of troops was yesterday banned from driving for 18 months.

Stephen Donnelly, 26, who was also fined pounds 620, was almost two times over the limit when his car hit the soldiers as he drove from a pub after celebrating his nephew's birth.

One soldier was paralysed from the waist down, two suffered such bad leg injuries they needed skin grafts and another needed a metal plate in his arm in the crash near Tidworth, Wiltshire, last September.

Magistrates at Chippenham, Wiltshire, heard that Donnelly, from Tidworth, had been threatened after the crash and was assaulted on Tuesday night by two soldiers.

Frank Murphy, for the prosecution, told the court that a column of 16 soldiers of the Green Howards First Regiment were on a 22-kilometre march as part of exercises on Salisbury Plain when Donnelly's car came up behind them and did not seem to brake. The vehicle struck one of two lines of servicemen, injuring 11 men - four of them seriously.

Donnelly admitted drink-driving, driving without due care and attention; having only a provisional licence, driving without insurance, no MoT certificate and with a bald tyre.