A HAMPSHIRE woman was left hanging upside down in her overturned car after she swerved to avoid an oncoming vehicle driven by a man who had fallen asleep at the wheel.

Lucy White, 30, crawled from her “wrecked” car after it landed upside down in a ditch.

She was forced to take evasive action after a Honda Civic, driven by Paul Newby, crossed on to her side of the road.

Newby, 54, had narrowly avoided a crash with another vehicle – which swerved off the road and crashed into a tree – before clipping Mrs White’s vehicle.

At Southampton Crown Court, it was revealed Newby had fallen asleep at the wheel seconds before the crash.

Prosecuting, Barry McElduff said Newby was driving on the Straight Mile, between Romsey and Winchester, when he was seen to veer on to the wrong side of the road towards an oncoming Volvo which mounted the verge.

He said Mrs White, who was behind the Volvo in a Ford Focus, was forced to swerve but collided with Newby’s vehicle.

Mr McElduff said: “She slammed on the brakes but there was nothing she could do.”

“Her car started to roll on to its roof. She was hanging upside down in the vehicle but managed to scramble out of the car.”

The court heard that Mrs White, from Romsey, had suffered a wrist fracture and her car was written off.

Police arrived, but due to Newby’s injuries, were unable to administer a breath test at the scene.

In hospital, Newby refused to take a blood test, saying he was unable to be cannulated due to his poor veins. Mr McElduff said this claim was later backed up by medical evidence, relating to his treatment for bowel and liver cancer.

He added that Newby had previously been convicted of drink-driving and the Crown Prosecution Service had “some scepticism” over whether he was drink-driving on this occasion.

Defence barrister, David Jenkins, denied his client had been impaired due to drink or drugs but admitted Newby had fallen asleep at the wheel.

He said the “cumulative affect” of chemotherapy drugs and a day of manual labour was behind Newby’s tiredness.

Mr Jenkins added that Newby was “devastated” at causing the crash, and had suffered a lasting injury which meant he now had to walk with a stick.

Newby, who pleaded guilty to dangerous driving and failure to provide a specimen, was given a 10-month prison sentence, suspended for 18 months, and banned from driving for 40 months.

Recorder Marcus Pilgerstorfer said: “

I’m struck by how much worse this accident could have been. It is pure good fortune that someone was not seriously injured or killed that day.”

Newby, of Andover Road, Winchester, was made the subject of a three-month curfew, keeping him at his home between 6pm and 6am.

Following the court hearing, Mrs White, who works as an office manager in Winchester, described the incident as a very scary experience.

She added the incident had “changed her life completely” and she was now more nervous about driving, particularly near to the crash site, which she still drives past every day.