Wealthy businessman Carl Entwistle, 41, is pictured outside Manchester Crown Court
A convicted drug dealer who once dated reality TV star Gemma Collins has been spared jail for dangerous driving over a motorway smash which left another driver seriously injured.
Wealthy businessman Carl Entwistle, 41, performed an illegal U-turn on a slip road in his Mercedes after accidentally coming off at the wrong junction and ploughing head on into Andrew Semple’s Volkswagen Passat.
Company manager Mr Semple suffered a bleed on the brain, cracked ribs, four bruised neck vertebrae, a broken right wrist, a broken right ankle, torn ankle ligaments, abdominal bleeding and a damaged right eye in the impact.
He still has difficulty with his sight six months after the crash in Manchester, and his driving licence is suspended.
Entwistle, who was pictured kissing The Only Way Is Essex and I’m a Celebrity star Collins in 2015, faced up to five years in prison after admitting causing serious injury by dangerous driving.
The former car valeter has a criminal history including his involvement in a multi-million pound heroin and crack cocaine drugs cartel.
But he was only handed a suspended jail sentence and told to pay compensation of £1,000 after telling a judge he was now a successful entrepreneur employing 60 people serving rich clients at hospitality venues in Cheshire’s ‘Golden Triangle.’
In 2015, reality TV star Gemma Collins posted this picture of Entwistle giving her a kiss on her Instagram account. She captioned the image with a single heart emoji
Manchester Crown Court heard the incident occurred at 7.50pm on January 6 this year. Father-of-one Entwistle, who lives in a £500,000 house in Wilmslow, Cheshire, was driving his Mercedes GLE 250 along the M56 westbound at the time.
It is thought he intended to come off the motorway at Junction 6 near Hale Barns but accidentally took the previous turn off heading to Manchester Airport.
Prosecutor David Farley said: ‘The defendant, it seems, because he had taken the wrong exit decided to do a U-turn into the oncoming lanes, and went the wrong way up the carriageway.
‘He didn’t make it very far before crashing, hitting Mr Semple’s car. He was going the wrong way up the slipway and there was devastation to both cars. The front of the vehicles disintegrated.
‘Fortunately for Mr Semple, a nurse stopped at the scene to help. Police also attended and the defendant was asked what happened.
‘He admitted his error at the scene and said that he took the wrong turn and that he had turned back on himself and caused the accident.
‘He was tested for alcohol and drugs and found to be negative. Unfortunately, Mr Semple incurred what appeared to be serious injuries.
‘Mr Semple ordinarily would be a carer for his wife who is registered blind. But he indicated that it was him that needed attention 24 hours a day for two weeks. He looked after her, and in turn, she had to care for him.
Entwistle is thought to have met Gemma Collins at a charity ball hosted by Real Housewives of Cheshire star Dawn Ward (pictured) in 2015 and they exchanged numbers
‘He works as a yard manager, which in the circumstances has been difficult. But his company has changed the nature of his role and allowed him to work from home. Six months after the accident he was still having problems with his right eye.
‘This causes him the most concern, as he does photography, which is his hobby. He has difficulty gripping because of his broken wrist and because of the pain.
‘These are serious physical injuries and he is going to require ongoing physical therapy for his right ankle and possible surgery.
‘He says that because of his eye problems, his driving license has been suspended. He feels he has been banned for something that wasn’t his fault. The defendant made a bad error.’
Entwistle, formerly of Bolton, also had previous convictions for aggravating vehicle taking, criminal damage and assault on police.
He went to jail in 2002 for seven and a half years after working as a fixer for a cartel gang run by the late crimelord Billy Webb, 42.
Webb was blamed for the 1997 murder of five Dillon Hull who was gunned down and killed as he walked down a street hand-in-hand with his stepfather.
Webb himself was shot dead in 2001 as he sat with his girlfriend at his apartment in Wigan.
Entwistle avoided jail at Manchester Crown Court (where he is pictured, above), having faced up to five years in prison after admitting causing serious injury by dangerous driving
In 2010, Entwistle served a further 19 months in prison for kidnapping and torturing a 17-year-old boy in a row over missing money.
In mitigation the court heard he was now ‘reformed’ and ran two businesses, one a concierge firm and the other a pub chain which includes in its portfolio the King William in Wilmslow and the Drum and Monkey in neighbouring Alderley Edge.
Defence lawyer Gavin Edmondson said: ‘The man who stands before you is extremely different to the one whose record was just described.
‘Character references say he has completely turned his life around to what he always wanted it to be. One said he is the successful owner of two businesses employing 60 staff in the hospitality sector.
‘He has done charity work in his local community and is currently not just a man of good character, he is a man of actively good character. He has fully changed his life around.
‘He gives jobs to prisoners on release. He employs ex-convicts who are trying to go straight. He is a man who has transformed his life in every single way.’
Mr Edmondson added: ‘This was a shocking piece of driving that carries with it criminal responsibility but this was a mistake and was no more than that. It is low culpability. Mr Entwistle is fully apologetic and can really do no more than that.
‘He has been in therapy for a number of years. He underwent CBT therapy to deal with a psychological condition that he had in the past that got him into trouble. As a child had quite a troubled time.
‘His father was an alcoholic. This man is the success story that the state wants. His father was an alcoholic, and he would wake up in cold sweats about his father returning to alcohol.
Entwistle went to jail in 2002 after working as a fixer for a cartel gang run by the late crimelord Billy Webb, 42, who was blamed for the 1997 murder of five-year-old Dillon Hull (pictured)
‘But he has endeavoured to reform himself in every single way. This is a man who is really working hard on rehabilitation. He doesn’t need his car to run his business as he just needs to be with his customers.
‘He is a man of some means and in relation to personal compensation to the victim, he would easily be able to raise a few thousand pounds.’
Entwistle was sentenced to 12 months imprisonment, suspended for two years and was also banned from driving for 18 months.
Sentencing the judge Miss Recorder Sally Hatfield QC told him: ‘You have turned your life around since being in trouble.
‘You had a difficult childhood but you have developed a successful business and have been seeking to address very difficult mental health issues.
‘You have created a very successful business and many employees depend on you. I’ve seen a number of your character references and you have a properly run business. You have a partner and a young child and you express remorse.’
Entwistle had previously spoken publicly about his life of crime and told how he had become a youth worker to deter youngsters falling into a life of crime.
He said: ‘I started getting into trouble because there was nothing to do in the evenings. I had nowhere to channel my energies. I basically grew up in prison. The seven-and-half year stretch was a shock to the system, a wake-up call.’
It is thought he met Collins at a charity ball hosted by Real Housewives of Cheshire star Dawn Ward in 2015 and they exchanged numbers.
Collins subsequently posted a picture of him giving her a kiss on her Instagram account. She captioned the image with a single heart emoji.