A YOUNG businesswoman told a court how her life and dreams were wrecked in an instant by a van driver who smashed into her father's car in the Cotswolds and left her so badly injured she is now confined to a wheelchair.

As 21-year-old Lauren Woodward's emotional statement was read to a judge on Tuesday, the van driver, Lubomir Tokoly, 63, sat awaiting his fate after admitting that he caused her serious injury by dangerous driving.

Gloucester Crown Court was told that Lauren's father was running her to work at her beauty salon in his Vauxhall Astra car on the A436 in the Cotswolds when Tokoly's Fiat Ducato van went onto the wrong side of the road and smashed into them.

Although Lauren's father stepped from the wreckage relatively unharmed, she suffered devastating injuries which are still blighting her life 10 months later.

In her victim impact statement, read to the court, Lauren, from Dursley said: “I am still in physical pain since the collision. Waking up in pain every single day has been life changing. It is exhausting and draining. Even the simplest of tasks become impossible.

“I have trouble concentrating in everything I do. I struggle to remember words.

“On the day of the accident my dad was driving me to work. It was a Saturday morning and we both work hard running our own businesses. So any chance we have to spend time together we take it to catch up.

“I always enjoy travel with work and in my social life. Since the accident I have been unable to comprehend that I would not be arriving at work that day. I’ve never been late or missed a day of work. "

Tokoly, from Piatanova Kosice in Slovakia, pleaded guilty to causing serious injury to Lauren on March 23, 2019 by driving dangerously on the A436 near Seven Springs. He was jailed for 16 months and banned from driving in the UK for four years.

Prosecutor Sam Jones said Lauren's father Tim is now her full-time carer and has described the ordeal as a dad's 'worst nightmare.'

Mr Jones said: “Mr Woodward was taking his daughter to work on the Saturday morning in the family’s Vauxhall Astra. They were travelling between the Air Balloon roundabout and the Seven Springs pub on the A436 at 8.40am when they were in a head on collision with a substantially sized van being driven by Tokoly.

“At this point there were double white lines in the middle of road yet the van was driving on the wrong side of the road. Despite Mr Woodward’s best efforts to avoid the collision a crash was inevitable.”

“Miss Woodward was trapped in the car between the glove box and the seat and she was unable to move. The emergency services eventually freed her and she was taken to hospital," said Mr Jones.

"She had a broken right foot, a large open wound, a broken left ankle that required metal plates, multiple fractures to her pelvis and lower vertebra. She also suffered an array of internal injuries.

“Miss Woodward says that the injuries have been life-changing. She had been successfully running her own business until the accident but she hasn’t been able to work since.”

Lisa Hughes, an eyewitness travelling behind Tokoly’s van, said in a statement that just before the collision she had concerns about the way it was being driven.

After passing the Frogmill pub and the Shipton Golf Course, Tokoly began straddling the white lines before correcting his mistake, she said. This was a 'constant manoeuvre for the next few miles.'

Ms Hughes said: “When we approached a right hand bend the van straddled the white lines again, but this time the driver did not correct the manoeuvre. I could see that an accident was going to happen in the next few moments and the collision happened at the top of the hill.”

Tokoly later told police through an interpreter that he had driven into the UK earlier that day to make a delivery and intended to leave again later that day.

“The vehicle was technically sound and I wasn’t driving fast. However, I am not used to driving on the left in the UK as I drive on the right in Slovakia," he stated.

Mr Woodward told the court that his daughter had made very little physical progress since the accident.

“Lauren was confined to a single bed in the dining room of the family home after the accident. She has since been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and her quality of life is poor," he said.

“She has recently moved into a ground floor flat in the Gloucester Docks area. She will struggle to ever get into a car again.

“My entire life has been put on hold. It has caused me a lot of stress and the pressure has been relentless.

“This has been my worst nightmare and I’ve no idea when it’s going to end.”

Lauren, in her victim statement describing the crash, said “The driver of the van’s blank expression will haunt me forever as will the last image, the headlight right in front of me.

“My body went into shock and I felt very tired. I was concentrating on just keeping awake while the emergency services tried to get me out of the vehicle. Being trapped inside the crumpled wreck was terrifying. It felt like forever.

“I couldn’t struggle or even move myself as my body was so weak. I did my best just to lay still. I could see my father’s face surrounded by a white blur.

“I remember crying when I came round from my first operation in hospital. I was glad to see my feet still there.

“I was in survival mode in the hours after the accident. I felt I was being punished.

“I was in hospital for seven weeks. The emotional and physiological effects have been hard on me.

“I didn’t want to see any friends or family. I now get very agitated very quickly.

“I am still unable to walk, or sit in my wheelchair for very long. I haven’t been anywhere or done anything since the accident. I can’t relax.

“About four months after the accident I reached the lowest point in my life. I began suffering from depression. I have a lot of bad dreams and nightmares.

“All the days and weeks roll into one as there is no break in this cycle. I had been an extremely independent person. I have been left vulnerable and dependent on my dad.

“It has become apparent that I am now suffering from a severe phobia of travelling in vehicles. This is something that is completely life changing for me as I am unable to meet medical appointments.

“I need to create a new life for myself that doesn’t involve driving.

“I’ve gone from being an ambitious and successful person to somebody who now has no confidence and whose self esteem has been diminished.

“I’ve been left with no quality of life. It seems as if all my hard work has been taken away from me.

“What should have been the best year of my life, has now become the worst.”

Matthew Harbinson, defending, said Tokoly had never broken the law in this country or in Slovakia before. The prospect of him being sent to prison had come as a shock to him.

Mr Harbinson added: “Tokoly accepts that he made a tragic mistake. He said he had travelled a considerable distance before the incident and admits that he failed to negotiate the bend on a hill.

“He also admitted driving on the wrong side of the road, but he said that it was not deliberate.

“He has a daughter of a similar age to Miss Woodward and can appreciate what her family are going through.

“As you can see, he is distraught in the dock. He was sobbing when Miss Woodward’s statement was being read out.

“Tokoly is extremely remorseful about his actions and he has shown genuine emotion.

“He has twice flown back to the UK to face the justices when he was required to. He has not absconded and is facing up to his responsibilities.

“The impact of a prison sentence would be devastating for his family as his wife is likely to be evicted from their home.”

Judge Julian Lambert said to Tokoly: “I consider your offending is so serious that only a immediate custodial sentence can be justified.”

Tokoly said in his native language to the judge, which was translated by the court interpreter: “I am very sorry that this has happened.”