A MOTORIST caused a serious head-on crash by approaching a blind bend on the wrong side of a Durham Dales road because he thought he was in Portugal, a court has heard.

Martin Stephen Grimwood had returned from the Iberian country the night before the crash in Teesdale on August 12, magistrates in Newton Aycliffe, County Durham heard.

A local man driving a Vauxhall Corsa rounded the bend on the B6277 between Newbiggin and High force to be confronted by Grimwood’s Volvo XC90 coming towards him on the wrong side of the road, the court heard.

The Corsa was travelling at about 40mph and had no chance of avoiding a head on crash with Grimwood’s car, magistrates were told.

The driver of the Corsa, an experienced tractor driver from Teesdale, had to be airlifted to James Cook University Hospital after the collision at about 2.50pm.

He needed about 20 stitches in his face after his head collided with the windscreen and will be left with scars, the court heard.

He also suffered injury to his knee which is still causing him pain, magistrates were told.

In a statement to the court, the Corsa driver said: “I think the standard of driving (by Grimwood) was poor, I was not expecting to see another car on the wrong side of the road going around a blind corner.”

The driver said if he had not slowed down as he passed a bus parked in a layby, the accident could well have been fatal.

Grimwood, 47, of Holmes Road in Twickenham pleaded guilty to careless driving.

In a letter to the court, he expressed sincere apologies for the damage and injuries caused.

Grimwood said he had returned from a holiday in Portugal the night before where he had been driving.

Grimwood and three relatives had driven to Teesdale from Twickenham in Middlesex on the morning of August 12 to go walking and were just leaving when the accident happened.

Grimwood said he had parked his car in a layby facing the traffic, and as he pulled away suffered a momentary lapse believing he was in Portugal again.

He said: “I became momentarily disorientated as I pulled away and fully accept I caused the accident.”

Magistrates imposed five points on his licence and ordered Grimwood to pay £305 in fines and costs.