A “cowardly” driver from Bexleyheath ran away from the scene of a crash which caused severe brain injury to a loving mum and teacher. 

Matthew Sparkes swerved across all four lanes of the A2 before crashing into the back of a Ford Fiesta. 

One passenger in the Fiesta, a 40-year-old mum-of-three named Natalie, suffered a severe brain injury in the crash. 

Her family have been told she will never be the same person again. 

Sparkes and his girlfriend, who had ordered six cocktails between them at a restaurant, ran away from the crash on foot and so he was never breathalysed. 

The 35-year-old only handed himself in days later, following a police appeal in the press. 

He claimed the crash was caused when he reached down to pick up a vape he had dropped. 

Natalie’s family branded Sparkes a coward during a hearing at Woolwich Crown Court, where he was given a prison sentence of less than four years. 

News Shopper: Matthew SparkesMatthew Sparkes (Image: Kent 999 on X)

'Spinning like ragdolls’ 

On Friday (April 26) Sparkes, of Keswick Road in Bexleyheath, appeared in court for sentencing after pleading guilty to causing serious injury by dangerous driving and driving without insurance. 

On February 16 secondary school teacher Natalie had been for dinner at Bluewater and was driving home with two close friends, prosecutor Nick Mather said. 

At around 10.40pm they pulled onto the A2 in Gravesend from a slip road. 

At the same time, Sparkes, driving an Audi S3, drove diagonally across the A2 from fourth lane to first. 

Mr Mather said: “There was no reason for him to do it. He had passed the junction and the slip road. He made no effort to break and collided with the rear of the Fiesta.” 

One witness said Sparkes had been driving at 100mph, though a judge said this could not be established as fact.   

Natalie’s friend who was driving the Fiesta said: “The sound and force of being rear ended and metal crashing into metal is something I cannot shake from my memory.” 

She described their car “spinning like ragdolls in the washing machine”. 

'Callous and cowardly’ 

Natalie had to be airlifted to hospital with a severe brain injury. 

Meanwhile Sparkes and his girlfriend, who was in the passenger, ran from the scene on foot. 

In court one of Natalie’s friends said: “Matthew you further committed a callous and cowardly act by fleeing the scene, leaving us for dead. You could have at least phoned the police.” 

Prosecutor Mr Mathew said prior to the crash Sparkes had been at a restaurant with his girlfriend and six cocktails were ordered by their table of two. 

“We cannot say that drinking was a contributing factor to the crash. We cannot say that because he ran from the scene and was not breathalysed.” 

Sparkes handed himself in to police three days after the crash, after police released a photo of him to the media. 

He answered no comment to all questions but DNA and CCTV evidence secured a guilty plea. 

Later he told the court the crash had been caused when he reached down to pick up a vape from the floor of the car. 

News Shopper: The scene of the crash on the A2The scene of the crash on the A2 (Image: Kent 999 on X)

'Loving, supportive and caring’ 

Natalie’s husband addressed the court at Sparkes sentencing hearing. 

He described his wife as simply his best friend, adding: “Our three beautiful children could not wish for a more loving, supportive and caring mummy.” 

The family have been told that Natalie’s brain injury means she will not be the same person again. 

But her husband said: “We will overcome it and move forward with all the love, teamwork and optimism that has characterised our lives together.” 

Addressing Sparkes directly, he said: “You cowardly and selfishly fled the scene for reasons which the court can only surmise, but we know.” 

He said Sparkes had since tried to “buy their forgiveness”. 

“Shame on you”, he told Sparkes. 

Less than four years 

Judge Charlotte Welsh, sentencing Sparkes, said she could not be sure that Sparkes was speeding when the crash took place. 

But she noted that he carried out a highly dangerous manoeuvre without slowing down. 

Judge Welsh said. “The only explanation you have provided for this is that you leant down to pick up a vape you had dropped 

“If that is what happened, it was extraordinary behaviour. 

“The horror of what happened was immediately obvious to everyone at the scene and would have been obvious to you, but you ran off. 

“Not only did you run off, you didn’t report the accident or call 999. Your thoughts at the moment were only for you, not for others.” 

She sentenced Sparkes to three years and three months in custody for this offence. 

Judge Welsh also activated an eight month suspended sentence he had been given in 2023 for possession of cannabis with intent to supply. 

This brought the total sentence up to three years and 11 months. 

Judge Welsh also banned Sparkes from driving for seven years and 10 months. He will have to pass an extended retest before he can drive again.