Beer motorhome crash driver avoids jail

Police cordon surrounds crumpled front of motorhome
Image caption Two teenage girls suffered life-changing injuries in the crash

The driver of a motorhome that hit a group of teenagers has been handed a suspended jail sentence.

Arnold Kasserra, 67, from Germany, was at the wheel of the vehicle when it crashed through a wall in Beer in July.

Two teenage girls were seriously hurt in the collision in the Devon village.

Kasserra, who previously admitted causing serious injury by dangerous driving, was sentenced at Exeter Crown Court to 18 months suspended for two years.

He was also fined £1,000 and banned from driving for five years.

Kasserra, a retired engineer, had pressed the clutch rather than his brake as he went the wrong way down Common Lane.

He did not sound his horn as a warning and narrowly missed two pedestrians as he went down the hill for 275m before crashing into the wall.

'Life-changing injuries'

The court heard that the two girls, from the Bristol area, were on their way to the beach when the crash happened shortly after 11:00 BST.

They both suffered life changing injuries. Victoria Vipond, 16, had a toe amputated and is still on crutches after having a bar fitted to her left leg.

Her friend, Natalie Palmer, was in hospital for more than two months after suffering a broken neck, internal injuries and pelvic injuries.

She needs to use a special neck brace and a wheelchair. The court was told it is not known to what extent she will recover.

Kasserra's defence counsel said there had been nothing to suggest he was "deliberately" driving dangerously.

"The failure to press the right pedal falls below the standard to be expected. It was compounded by understandable panic and horror," he said.

Passing sentence, Recorder Andreae-Jones QC told Kasserra: "You lost your head pressing the wrong pedal and panicked and you could not bring yourself back into reality in time."

He added: "I have not for one moment lost sight of the predicament of the two girls."

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