A LAW student who was acting as a drugs courier in a stolen car when he smashed into two female runners has been jailed for four and a half years.

Keen runner Jessica Sammon was left with devastating leg injuries and her friend Laura Hodgson was also badly hurt when Mohammed Qasim’s Ford Fiesta veered out of control in Moss Bank Way on the evening of March 7.

Both women were at Bolton Crown Court to see him jailed after he admitted causing serious injury by dangerous driving, driving while banned, possessing heroin with intent to supply and driving without insurance.

Duncan Wilcock, prosecuting, told the court how Qasim, who was studying law at the University of Central Lancashire in the hope of becoming a solicitor, was driving the Fiesta along Moss Bank Way on that evening.

Motorist Khumbo Gondwe, who was behind Qasim’s car, noticed it veering from side to side before it failed to follow the road to the left, headed straight on and collided with Miss Sammon and Miss Hodgson, who were out training with a group from Burnden Road Racers.

“They were seen to be hurled into the air. Jessica Sammon, it appears, landed at the side of the pavement and Laura Hodgson was catapulted into a local garden,” said Mr Wilcock.

Describing the two women as being in the “wrong place at the wrong time”, he told how passers-by and householders cared for the injured runners until paramedics arrived and they were taken to Salford Royal Hospital.

After hitting the women, Qasim’s car collided with a garden wall and it rolled onto the roof. Members of the public detained him until police arrived to arrest him. He tested positive for having taken cannabis.

The Bolton News:

READ MORE: "It was important to come today" - brave injured runners speak out after seeing crash driver Mohammed Qasim jailed

Officers discovered that the car had been stolen, with Qasim claiming he had hired it from an acquaintance.

Then, when examining the wreckage, police found a package containing 5.36g of heroin worth up to £530, in the footwell.

Qasim, aged 22, of Castle Street, Bolton, claimed he had been short of cash to pay for student living expenses for him and his sister and so agreed to act as a courier, delivering drugs between dealers in return for £100.

But Judge Graeme Smith heard that he also should not have been driving as he was banned from the roads and had previously been caught driving whilst disqualified.

The court was told that Miss Sammon had to spend two weeks in hospital and had to have complex surgery to repair her shattered knee and tibia. She faces a further operation and is continuing to undergo physiotherapy.

“She will always have some form of disability to her right knee as a result of this injury,” said Mr Wilcock, who added that running had been a big part of the 25-year-old freelance designer’s life.

Miss Hodgson, aged 23, also suffered leg injuries, including ligament damage and needs physiotherapy.

Colin Buckle, defending, said Qasim is remorseful, knows he has brought shame on his family and is unlikely to now have a career in the law.

“This, for the defendant, is a complete and unmitigated personal catastrophe,” he said.

Sentencing Qasim, Judge Graeme Smith told him: “It was you that was in the wrong place at the wrong time. You should never have been in that car.”

He added that the two runners “never had a chance” to avoid being hit.

“Their eyes were fully closed to the danger because they should not have been in any danger,” said the judge.