Driver who smashed his car into a couple’s dream new home in Desborough has been spared jail

The court was told that he was an “enormous asset to society” and the incident was totally out of character

Tuesday, 6th July 2021, 4:50 pm
Updated Tuesday, 6th July 2021, 4:52 pm
Jack Walther and his wife Katie survey the damage to their house after the crash.
Jack Walther and his wife Katie survey the damage to their house after the crash.

A driver who smashed his car into a devastated couple’s dream new home in Desborough causing almost £80,000 of damage has escaped jail.

Simba Chimba, 26, was told by a judge that he was an “enormous asset to society” after he emigrated to the UK from Zimbabwe and became a nurse.

Chimba, who ploughed into the house in Dunkirk Avenue, Desborough, in the terrifying late-night crash, has even been handed a Smile award for saving a child’s life, Northampton Crown Court heard.

Jack Walther surveys the damage to the house after the crash.

The dramatic incident happened at about 1am on May 13 last year.

Chimba lost control of his silver Mercedes C220 and crashed into the house - causing £78,796 damage.

Jack Walther, 33, and his wife Katie, 38, a paramedic, leapt out of bed and dashed downstairs after being woken up by the ear-splitting blast.

Jack, a builder, said later he thought a “bomb had gone off”.

Chimba had buried his powerful car into the side of the house that Jack and his dad Carl, 66, had taken two years to build for his young family.

The entire kitchen had been moved by three inches by the force of the brutal impact, the court heard.

Amazingly the couple’s two young sons, Henry, five, and Rory, two, slept all night throughout the incredible drama and were unhurt.

Paramedic Katie raced straight out to help Chimba, of Church View Road, Desborough, and make sure he was all right.

She comforted and supported him until emergency services arrived.

A shocked passer-by estimated Chimba was doing 60mph-70mph on the 30mph-limit road when he crashed, the court was told.

An initial roadside breath test was just on the limit.

But a later test showed Chimba had not been over the drink-drive limit when he hit the house, the judge heard.

The nurse admitted a single charge of dangerous driving.

Liam Muir, defending, said it was completely out of character for Chimba.

Mr Muir said: "He's a young man who is disgusted with his actions.

"When I spoke to him he asked me how he could get in touch with the victims to say sorry.

"In terms of rehabilitation, there's never a greater candidate than the one who sits before you.

"The amount he gives back to the community is immense."

Recorder Michael Auty, QC, said: "This was a dreadfully serious offence.

"I hope I don't need to set out to you how easily it could have been that you killed people including young children.

"Anybody reading about this or hearing about it would think that this is the kind of offence that has to result in you going to prison immediately.

"The home you crashed into was the home of a paramedic.

“Her immediate instinct was to help you - and that's an instinct you will recognise because it's one that you share."

Recorder Auty said Chimba told him he had moved to the UK from Zimbabwe and worked hard to gain his nursing qualifications.

"You're a credit to your profession and when you do your job you save the lives of other people.

"On one hand you could have killed someone and on the other you're an enormous asset to society,” said Recorder Auty.

"Despite your comparative lack of experience you saved a child's life by being bright and engaged and enthusiastic.”

The court was told the crash happened about six weeks after the first Covid lockdown was imposed on March 23 last year.

“You went to work every day not knowing whether you were going to live or die.

“But you still went,” said Recorder Auty.

"You weren't simply concerned for yourself, you lived with your mother and you were equally worried that while your life was in jeopardy at work you might take home this pernicious disease to her and you might be responsible for killing her.

"You found yourself sitting on a park bench doing nothing more than thinking with a couple of cans and then because of the state you were in emotionally you went for a drive.

"£78,000 of damage is an awful lot of damage.

“But you do an awful lot of good and I don't believe that anyone looking at the whole facts of this case would expect me to send you to prison.”

Sentencing Chimba to nine months in prison, suspended for two years, Recorded Auty added: "I don't believe for one moment this court will ever see you again."

Chimba will also have to complete 10 rehabilitation requirement days and was banned from driving for 12 months.

Shell-shocked dad Jack Walther spoke to the Harborough Mail about the family’s ordeal after the crash in May last year.

“I was in total shock.

“I couldn’t believe what I was seeing,” he said just hours afterwards.

“It’s catastrophic – and it’s an absolute nightmare for all of us.

“It sounded like a bomb going off – like a huge explosion.

“The whole house shook,” said the shattered dad-of-two.

“I shot out of bed and ran downstairs in my pants.

“I could see the car’s hazard lights flashing.

“Our kitchen was covered in dust and I could smell fuel.

“I dashed outside.

“The Mercedes had crashed in to the corner of our house.

“There was nothing left of the car’s bonnet, the car was virtually destroyed.

“We built this house to be so strong and yet the impact pushed the entire property back two inches.

“The driver was slumped back in his seat, up against his headrest.

“He looked dead to me.

“I ran back upstairs to make sure that our young boys, Henry and Rory, were all right – and thank God they were.”

Jack said Katie leapt into action as the devastating disaster began to sink in.

“Katie’s a paramedic and she was very cool, she helped to calm me down.

“She went out to check the driver’s pulse – and he was alive.

“He’s very lucky not to have been killed,” said the well-known local builder.

“There was no blood and he hadn’t suffered any obvious injuries – his airbag had gone off.

“My mum, who lives next door, and a late-night by-passer called 999.

“The police, firemen and ambulance service all got here very quickly.

“The driver was rushed to hospital.

“The police were here till 4 in the morning – we were just in a daze.

“But amazingly Henry, who’s five, and Rory, two, slept all night throughout all this drama bless them.”

Jack said they had been given the land to build the house on by his mum Carole, 63, and dad Carl.

He runs building company Carl the Builder & Son with his dad.

“My parents live next door.

“It’s taken me and my dad two years to build this house and it’s our dream home – our for ever home.

“It’s been a real labour of love,” said Jack.

“Rory had just been born and I missed my boys as I worked 12-hour days building this house.

“I put so much toil, sweat and tears into it.

“And now it’s in such a devastating state – it’s so hard to take in.”

He said he had just finished painting the kitchen at the spacious four-bed detached property boasting a games room a week ago.

“We had just got it how we wanted it – it’s a fantastic house.

“We’re insured but it will take at least 12 weeks to get started.

“We need a new kitchen, rewiring, bay window.

“We’ll have to knock down the front and corner of our house and start again,” said Jack.

“I’ll try to get a couple of local builders in to help me out this time.

“It’s massively upsetting as I’d just finished.

“But it could have been far worse.

“The car hit us just two metres away from where little Henry’s head was as he slept in the bedroom above.

“Bricks and mortar can be replaced – but our little boy can’t.”

Katie told the Mail: “It’s a totally freak accident.

“We are gutted because we had just finished painting and putting down carpets after so long working on it.

“But we’ll just have to crack on – we have no other choice.”