AN ALCOHOLIC who smashed into a pensioner when he drunkenly got behind the wheel to buy horse food has been locked up for 16 months.

Philip Pratley trembled in the dock as Oxford Crown Court heard how his ‘erratic’ drink-driving on the A361, between Shipton-under-Wychwood and Ascott-under-Wychwood, left Robin McConachie in hospital with serious injuries for six days.

The 49-year-old, who was three times over the limit, had no recollection of the smash which left the victim with a blood clot to his brain’s surface, a torn artery above his collarbone, a blood clot under his ribs, a collapsed lung, three rib fractures and missing teeth.

Defence barrister Claire Fraser tried to persuade Judge Ian Pringle QC to spare Pratley jail, claiming he could be treated for his 17-year addiction within the community.

But the judge rejected her pleas, telling the defendant: "Why you ever got behind the wheel that day, only you will know, but people who have that amount of alcohol in their system, who get behind the wheel and then cause a serious accident – and it could have been even more serious – will lose their liberty. I would be failing in my duty were I not to pass a prison sentence."

Nurse Emma Gardiner-Roberts was heading from Chipping Norton, towards Burford, when she spotted Pratley’s Land Rover close to her car at about 5pm on May 29 last year.

The blacksmith, of London Lane, Ascott-under-Wychwood, was seen driving erratically, from side to side along the road, prosecutor Simon Fisher said.

She attempted to get the drink-driver to slow down, putting her hazard lights on and trying to create space between the two cars.

Pratley, who must also pay a victim surcharge, then swerved onto a grass verge, disappearing out of her sight.

But a ‘shocked’ Ms Gardiner-Roberts then saw Pratley’s car about five or ten minutes later, further down the same stretch of road in the head-on collision with Mr McConachie - who made a full recovery.

Police believe Pratley’s car had crossed the carriageway before crashing into the 76-year-old's Mercedes, which was travelling in the opposite direction.

The drink-driver, who had no previous convictions, had 250 milligrams of alcohol in 100ml of blood, exceeding the legal limit of 80 milligrams.

Pratley confessed he had drank two cans of cider earlier that day and had drank the night before, but did not think he was over the limit, the court heard.

He had been ‘going through a difficult time’ after his wife left him, taking the children with her a few weeks before the crash.

Pratley, who admitted causing serious injury by dangerous driving and driving when alcohol level above the limit, was also handed a four-year driving ban.