THE devastated survivors of a horrific crash caused by a careless driver ploughing his car through a pub’s smoking area say they will live with feelings of guilt and trauma for the rest of their lives.

Stuart McClung, 36, a popular and talented musician, was killed when a car driven by 41-year-old Bandile Xozumti left the road and smashed through the smoking area of the Spinnaker Pub, in Colchester.

The court heard Xozumti had driven to a party with his wife on the evening of the crash, in November 2019.

In an interview with the probation service following his arrest and charge, he said he had drunk one or two glasses of wine.

A blood sample was taken from him at the hospital five hours after the fatal collision which showed a low blood alcohol concentration.

The court heard Xozumti is a Type 1 diabetic and is dependent on insulin, but there is no evidence to suggest he was suffering from any problems arising from his condition at the time of the crash.

Andrew Jackson, prosecuting at Chelmsford Crown Court, said: “Having left the party in Colchester in the early hours, he drove his wife towards their home.

“She was the front seat passenger, during the journey she was using her phone to find music.

“She was talking to the defendant, but in her witness statement said they were not arguing.

“She said she was not looking at the road ahead so could provide no explanation for what happened.

“The defendant is local to the area and should be familiar with the roads on the route which he took.

“His car was in good mechanical order.”

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The court heard at around 12.50am, Xozumti drove onto Hythe Quay.

As he approached the pub, he failed to follow a gradual bend, instead driving onto the opposite side of the road before mounting the pavement.

Crash reconstruction experts determined he was travelling at a speed between 37mph and 43mph, over the 30mph speed limit.

The road and pub were well lit, the conditions were good.

His car ploughed through the outdoor smoking area, where Mr McClung was seated by the wall of the pub.

Also in the smoking area were Mr McClung’s partner Victoria Spall, Ian Winter and Carl Joyner.

All four were struck by the car and Mr McClung was forced through the wall, with the car coming to a halt about two metres from where the barman was standing. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Mr Jackson said: “He was still seated and collapsed over the car bonnet.”

Gazette: Scene - the Spinnaker Pub in the aftermath of the horrific crashScene - the Spinnaker Pub in the aftermath of the horrific crash

Miss Spall suffered cuts and abrasions to her limbs and hips, as well as bruises to her ribs.

Mr Winter, a regular at the pub and a darts and pool team player, described the impact of the car as “like a bomb going off”.

He suffered serious injuries, including fractures to his pelvis, left hip, left femur and some spinal bruising.

Seven weeks after the crash, he remained in a wheelchair.

The court heard Mr Joyner, who suffered head injuries, a dislocated right arm and shoulder and nerve damage, had just given his seat up to Mr McClung before the crash.

In a heartbreaking victim impact statement bravely read aloud by Mr Joyner in court, he said: “Before the accident I was a carefree person, I liked playing darts and five-a-side on a Wednesday with friends.

“I also played football on Saturdays and Sundays for local football teams. I also enjoyed going to support my team Leeds United with my dad or the occasional home game.

“Now, since the accident, I feel like a different person.

“I suffer every day with guilt, through no fault of my own, because if the man who lost his life wasn’t sitting in that chair, it would have been me. I got up to give him the seat so he could sit next to his girlfriend.

“I now must live with it for the rest of my life, as much as I know it’s not my fault it still doesn’t make it any easier.

“A couple of months after the accident, I tried to take my own life, as I was unable to do anything for myself.

“My partner had to get up at 4am every day to make me breakfast and lunch, and put it in a small fridge that was by my bedside in the living room as I could not walk without assistance or a frame.”

Mr Joyner said he was able to open up with his partner about his feelings and after seeing a counsellor, was diagnosed with PTSD.

Miss Spall said: “I’ve lost not only my partner, but also my friend of 18 years – I feel like a huge part of my life is now missing. I’m very lucky to have not been seriously injured, but every day I feel the guilt of being alive when Stu is no longer here and when others were so badly hurt.

“His death has impacted so many people.”

Gazette: Missed - Stuart McClung was adored by his close friends and familyMissed - Stuart McClung was adored by his close friends and family

She added: “I can no longer clearly remember what he looks like, as I am haunted by seeing him at the funeral home laying in his coffin.

“But that was my only opportunity to say goodbye.

“It hurts me deeply that I can’t think about him anymore without that image appearing in my head.”

Xozumti, of Waterside Lane, Colchester, admitted a charge of causing death by careless driving.

Steven Levy, mitigating, said his client had been left devastated by the crash and shown remorse throughout the investigation.

Xozumti suggested he may have blacked out before the crash, although no medical evidence supports that assertion.

References from a friend, a colleague and a pastor of the church he attends, described him as a “kind person of high moral calibre”.

Judge Timothy Walker remained constrained by guidelines which dictate sentences in such cases.

He said: “Stuart McClung was plainly a very loved and well-liked person, he was described as having been a fun, loving individual, a joker and the life and soul of the party. He was also plainly a caring man.

“Victoria Spall has lost her partner and friend.

“She described Stuart as someone who is always striving to do good for others.

“His sister describes the news of the loss of her only sibling and her best friend as being the most stressful, emotional and saddest day of her life.”

Jailing Xozumti for one year, Judge Walker said his following of the guidelines should not minimise a “truly dreadful” incident.

Xozumti was banned from driving for two years.