A DRINK driver has been jailed for two years for causing a horror crash which left a police officer with life-changing injuries.

Robert Shapland-Hill was two-and-a-half times the legal drink driving limit on the A37 in Melbury Osmond on March 3 around 11pm when he crashed into a black Volkswagen Transporter van and a red Ford Focus.

The 52-year-old was sentenced at Bournemouth Crown Court after previously admitting two charges of driving a vehicle while drunk and for causing serious injury to police officer Mark Anthony Bonici by dangerous driving.

Prosecutor Rosemary Burns said Mr Bonici remains in ‘excruciating pain’ after multiple injuries including whiplash, bruising to his pelvis and dislocating his toe, which needed two operations.

The court heard how Shapland-Hill had crashed into the black van and drove 300 metres with sparks flying out the back of his blue Mercedes Sprinter van, and eventually crashed into Mr Bonici’s red Ford Focus at around 55mph.

Dorset Echo: Scene of the serious crash on A37 in March 2020. Picture: Maiden Newton Fire Station.Scene of the serious crash on A37 in March 2020. Picture: Maiden Newton Fire Station.

Ms Burns said witnesses within the black Volkswagon van said they did not see any brake lights from Shapland-Hill’s van before it crashed into the car being driven by off-duty officer Mr Bonici.

The court heard Shapland-Hill had been suffering from depression after a breakdown in his marriage, which caused the defendant to buy alcohol that evening and drink in his van.

Shapland-Hill, of Hillside Drive, Okehampton, Devon, then decided to drive home to his family.

A blood test carried out on Shapland-Hill at Dorset County Hospital showed his blood alcohol level was 204 milligrams of alcohol per 100ml of blood. The legal limit is 80mg.

The court heard he had also taken prescribed medication for his depression ahead of the crash.

Ms Burns said that the road was dry and visibility clear at the time.

In a statement read out to court, Mr Bonici said: “I still have panic attacks and struggle to sleep. I don’t think I will ever run again. It has caused strain on my relationship with my partner as I’ve lost my independence.”

Dorset Echo: Robert Shapland-Hill, 52, of Hillside Drive in Okehampton, Devon. Picture: Dorset Police.Robert Shapland-Hill, 52, of Hillside Drive in Okehampton, Devon. Picture: Dorset Police.

Defence solicitor Mary Aspinall-Miles read a statement out from the defendant, which said: “You have a right to travel home safely and I took that from you. I’m deeply sorry to your family.”

The court heard Shapland-Hill had taken prescribed medication during the incident.

She added: “He is genuinely remorseful of his actions. This behaviour was out of character for him. This catastrophic judgement was as a result of his personal issues.”

During sentencing, the defendant was visibly distraught.

Crown Court Judge, Jonathan Fuller QC told Shapland-Hill how this 'huge error' of judgement has had a 'profound impact' on the police officer 'psychologically' and caused 'life-changing injuries'.

He said: "You are of good character and you are someone who makes a positive contribution to society to your children, who are 20 and 17 years old.

Dorset Echo: The area of the crash on A37. Picture: GoogleThe area of the crash on A37. Picture: Google

"To your credit you have applied yourself to your actions and have clearly shown remorse.

"You have been described as a kind and considerate man.

"However, this incident was a huge error.

"Your actions have had a profound impact on a police officer and his career, who lead an active lifestyle."

Judge Fuller sentenced Shapland-Hill to two years in prison. His driving licence was also revoked for two years.