A VAN driver who was in a serious head-on crash in Wales while on the wrong side of the road had been tired after leaving his native Poland 48 hours earlier, a court heard on Friday.

Zbigniew Mularczyk, 39, had removed his glasses to rub his sore eyes and the Fiat box van went the wrong side of a central barrier just off the Britannia Bridge which links Anglesey and the mainland, Caernarfon crown court was told.

He admitted dangerous driving which caused serious injury, after a crash which left a Skoda driver with potentially life-threatening injuries including a bleed on the brain.

Jailing him for 16 months, Judge Rhys Rowlands said the Pole had been coming to the end of a very long journey and only had ten hours sleep.

He had left his workplace in Poland on November 28, drove via Dortmund to Britain, arriving early the following day, went on to Nottingham, and then had the smash on the A55 in North Wales just before 10.30pm on November 30.

Mr Mularczyk was driving a Fiat Ducato van which collided with a Skoda Octavia.

“I have no doubt at all that you would have been tired and this would have contributed to the accident,” the judge remarked.

He said the defendant had been driving towards Holyhead and needed his glasses to drive safely. He should have stopped to remove them.

“There were very serious injuries indeed,” Judge Rowlands said. “In taking off your glasses and continuing to drive while tired there was a substantial risk of danger to yourself and other road users.”

The judge added :”I accept you are genuinely sorry for what happened.”

Mularczyk, who had two drink-driving convictions in Poland, was banned from driving in Britain for 32 months and an extended test was ordered. He wept in the dock.

Frances Willmott, defending, said it was a very short period of poor driving and he was a married father of two.

Prosecuting counsel Elen Owen said IT project manager Orron Leighton had been taken to hospital at Bangor and then transferred more than 100 miles to a regional trauma centre at Stoke on Trent. He had been housebound and full recovery from his injuries was expected to take up to 18 months.

Investigating Officer, PC Eifion Jones of the Roads Policing Unit, North Wales Police said: “The manner of Mularczyk’s driving was reckless and irresponsible and he had no thought for that of other road users that night.

“This case shows what the consequences can be when drivers are not concentrating when behind the wheel, and I would urge all motorists to never allow their concentration to lapse whilst driving. This collision was entirely preventable.

“As a result of the collision the driver of the Octavia has been left with life-altering injuries and he will now face months of hospital treatment. We would like to wish him a speedy recovery.

“I hope the sentence handed by the court will send out a very clear message that anyone convicted of such offences will be dealt with robustly.”