Pro footballer who crashed his car and smashed into driver after taking laughing gas is jailed

A PRO footballer has been jailed for a year for causing a horrific car crash after taking laughing gas.

Flynn Clarke’s BMW swerved into the opposite carriageway in April last year – and into a motorhome.

GettyPETERBOROUGH, ENGLAND – DECEMBER 08: Flynn Clarke of Peterborough United looks on during the EFL Trophy match between Peterborough United and West Ham United Under 21 at Weston Homes Stadium on December 08, 2020 in Peterborough, England. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)[/caption]

A court heard the Norwich City player, 20, lost control after clipping a kerb while exiting a roundabout.

The driver of the motorhome which suffered significant injuries, while a male passenger in the BMW said he feared he’d never walk again.

Clarke, who has also played for Scotland‘s under-21 side, admitted three counts of causing serious injury by dangerous driving.

Peterborough crown court heard he also accepts having used nitrous oxide – more commonly known as laughing gas.

However, there were “unclear and conflicting accounts” whether it had been taken at the time or immediately prior to the collision.

Jailing Clarke for 12 months and banning him from driving for 30 months, Judge Sean Enright said his actions had led to “immense harm”.

Prosecutors said witnesses had described the young professional footballer driving in an “indecisive manner” and struggling to stay in his lane prior to the crash, which occurred on the A47 near Thorney, Cambs.

He was driving with his girlfriend in the front passenger seat and three male friends in the back, the court was told.

Clarke’s BMW then swerved into the opposite carriageway and ploughed head-on into a motorhome.

The owner of the motorhome vehicle, a HGV driver, said he has been unable to work since the crash which left him with a fractured pelvis, knee, hip and ankle.

He has since been forced to undergo multiple operations including a hip replacement.

In a victim impact statement read to the court, he added that his injuries had left him unable to do things he previously took for granted – including playing football with his grandson.

The victim said said: “Over the last 16 months I have been in pain and discomfort.

“This incident sends a shiver up my back when I think of it, and how the consequences should have been very different.”

A 21-year-old passenger in Clarke’s BMW told the court he’d feared he may never walk again after being airlifted to hospital with internal bleeding, having sustained a broken collar bone, sternum and vertebrae.

The young man added he could be in pain for the rest of his life and that, while Clarke did not set out to cause the crash, he “has to live with the consequences”.

Clarke’s defence counsel, Tommy Dominguez KC, said the crash had occurred due to a “momentary lapse of concentration” and added that Clarke had shown “significant remorse”.

“He has not looked to offer any excuses,” he said. “He has taken full responsibility for his actions.”

The court was also told Norwich City was likely to terminate the footballer’s employment if he was sent to prison.

Judge Enright also banned Clarke from driving for 30 months.

Clarke, born in Peterborough, Cambs., was signed by Norwich in 2021 after just a handful of senior appearances for Peterborough United.

He had a brief loan spell with League Two club Walsall last year and was signed on loan earlier this month by National League outfit Dagenham & Redbridge.

He made his debut for Scotland’s U21 side in September last year and was on the score sheet during a 1-1 draw with Northern Ireland.

In a statement, Norwich City said they would ‘”consider the matter internally in accordance with its own disciplinary procedure”.

It is currently not illegal to possess or use nitrous oxide. However, earlier this week MPs voted in favour of making it a Class C drug.

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