A TRAINEE paramedic was left with 'life-limiting' spinal injuries after being flung from an ambulance into a tree when his colleague took a bend at 80mph, a court has heard.

Jack Partridge, who has since been fired from South Central Ambulance Service over the crash, pleaded guilty to causing serious injury by dangerous driving at Oxford Crown Court yesterday.

Prosecutor Adam Norris told the court the 22-year-old had been returning to base in Adderbury along the A361 at the end of a 12-hour shift on November 3 last year when he lost control of the vehicle.

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Mr Norris said the new Mercedes sprinter ambulance, which contained two other paramedics at the time, clipped a grass verge and was sent rolling 'four or five times'. It was later found to have been going at 'around 80mph' despite not attending an emergency call at the time.

A trainee paramedic, who was standing in the back of the ambulance, was thrown from the vehicle into a tree where he was found unconscious 'several feet off the ground'. He was treated for spinal injuries and had to have metal plates inserted into his back.

Mr Norris said the man has been left with PTSD, anxiety and was still on a pain medication, adding: "Every time he gets in an ambulance he has flashbacks."

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He said the man described Partridge's driving in the run up to the accident as 'slightly erratic' and 'aggressive' adding it 'left little room for error'.

Mr Norris added all three emergency service workers had said they felt 'there was something not quite right' throughout the day and there was later discovered to be a small puncture in one wheel, though this was not found to be the cause of the crash. He said: "For any prudent driver this would have made them go slower not faster."

Zaheer Afzal, in mitigation, said Partridge, from Gilliver Road, Solihull, felt remorse for what happened. He said he had no previous convictions and was of good character, pointing to him joining the army at 16 and Oxford Ambulance Service two years later, initially as a call operator. He added: "He doesn't take it lightly."

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Judge Peter Ross, sentencing Partridge to 240 hours unpaid work, described his actions as 'almost suicidal'.

He added: "It was appallingly reckless and dangerous driving."

Judge Ross said what made the incident so serious was Partridge had made the 'deliberate decision' to turn off speed limiting in the ambulance so he could go faster. He added, however, that Partridge was 'hard-working' and decided not to impose a prison sentence or suspended sentence so he could pursue a nursing course.

He is also disqualified from driving for three years, will be electronically tagged with a curfew for four months and must pay court costs of £500.