A LEARNER driver has been jailed for causing life-changing injuries to a mother who he mowed down as she picked up her nine-year-old daughter from school.

Keith Lowres was trying to get away from the police in a stolen car and had narrowly avoided hitting two other children just moments before the accident in a narrow lane outside the back entrance of Pinhoe Primary School in Exeter.

He had already been involved in six previous police chases including one the previous day through the centre of Crediton in which he rammed a patrol car and drove so dangerously that police were forced to give up the pursuit for the safety of the public.

And he had also been caught speeding in Newton Abbot, and South Devon.

Lowres was at the wheel of the same Peugeot 508 with three friends inside on the afternoon of June 21 last year when he was pursued through country roads in Mid-Devon and into Pinhoe, where he almost hit a child and his mother while mounting the pavement and ramming a police car to break through a road block.

Police abandoned the chase as being too dangerous at this point but Lowres turned into the two-metre wide Lower Harrington Lane where he hit mother-of-two Kristina Brothers, whose child witnessed her being run down.

She suffered broken legs, a broken pelvis, internal bleeding, and head injuries including a fractured skull and a bleed on her brain. 

She was confined to a wheelchair for months and still can only walk with crutches. Her victim impact statement revealed that her child has also been severely traumatised.

Lowres abandoned the car further up the lane and he and his passengers jumped a fence to reach his home, where he asked his father to give him a false alibi.

He only had a provisional licence and no insurance and committed the final offence in a car he had stolen from a family in Cranbrook after persuading their daughter to lend him the keys.

His previous chases had been in Exeter, East Devon and Crediton, and had also been caught speeding in Newton Abbot, and South Devon. He had also attacked a man by throwing a wheel wrench at him from a moving car in Exeter.

Lowres, aged 18, of Thursby Walk, Exeter, admitted causing serious injury by dangerous driving, aggravated vehicle taking, and driving without a licence or insurance on June 21 this year.

He admitted other offences of dangerous driving, causing actual bodily harm, failing to pay for petrol, and attempting to pervert the course of justice by lying by naming other people as drivers on notices of intended prosecution.

He was jailed in a Young Offenders’ Institution for three years and eight months and banned from driving for two years after his release with an extended retest by Judge Anna Richardson at Exeter Crown Court, who also ordered the forfeiture of his BMW 3 series, Audi A3, Seat Leon and Vauxhall Astra cars.

She told him: ‘What you did has effectively devastated an entire family. You offending is aggravated by your earlier driving offences, by the fact that you were carrying passengers, the victim was a vulnerable road user who was on foot and this was in the vicinity of a school.

‘It was at the time of school pick-ups and Kristina Brothers was walking her daughter home. 

‘I have watched footage of the speed you were driving shortly before and it is plain she was thrown in the air and landed head first. Those present were deeply traumatised by what they saw.

‘It is possible this was a desperate attempt to fit in with your peers and gain some respect by offering to drive people and then by showing off and driving too fast.’

Miss Felicity Payne, prosecuting, said there had been a series of previous pursuits before the two which followed Lowres stealing a car and driving it dangerously in Crediton on June 20 and Pinhoe on June 21.

She said Ms Brothers is still suffering daily pain and may suffer some permanent injury as a result of the fractures to her legs and pelvis. 

She played a compilation of CCTV clips including one of Lowres speeding past two pedestrians in Crediton and one of him smashing his way through a police road block just moments before the crash outside the school.

Miss Rachel Smith, defending, said Lowres experienced a troubled childhood and has mental health issues including depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideation. He has also been diagnosed with ADHD and autism.

She said he was bullied at school and was trying to improve his standing among his peers by driving in the way he did.