A WELL known Aberystwyth man died in a head-on car crash when “age caught up” with an elderly driver and she fell asleep at the wheel.
Margaret Christopher, aged 81, had been looking for a layby to take a break when she failed to even attempt to take a left hand bend and drove straight into Dai England’s Peugeot 208.
Mr England died two days later from injuries to his heart and his central nervous system.
His daughter Rhian, a passenger in the front seat, suffered fractures to her arm, elbow and knee and spent three months in a wheelchair.
For the 48 hours after the crash doctors thought Christopher would die but she survived.
Today, she admitted causing death by careless driving. She was jailed for 14 months, suspended for two years, and banned from driving for two years.
Francis Jones, prosecuting, told Swansea Crown Court that on March 19 last year Christopher, then aged 80, was part way through a six and a half hour drive from her home in Southport, Lancashire, to her daughter’s home in Broad Haven. She had promised to look after her daughter’s dog while she went on holiday.
Christopher had taken two breaks, the last one in Machynleth. But as she approached Aberystwyth on the A4159 at Lovesgrove she felt she needed another one.
Mr Jones said Christopher entered a left hand bend but drove straight on and her Vauxhall Astra hit the Peugeot.
Mr England and his daughter had to be cut out of the wreckage. At the scene he was able to talk to paramedics but the 67 year old died in the University of Wales hospital in Cardiff two days later.
Mr Jones said other drivers thought Christopher had not even tried to take the bend and there was no sign that she had braked.
Rhian England remembered her father braking hard and turning to his left, but he could not avoid the collision.
Mr Jones said both cars were in good condition, as was the road surface, and the weather had been fine and visibility was good. Speed was not a factor, he added.
Christopher, he said, had no recollection of the collision and could not offer an explanation.
In a victim impact statement Mr England’s widow, Mair, said she thought about her soul-mate all of the time. They had been married for 44 years and had three children and two grandchildren.
Andrew Nuttall, the barrister representing Christopher, said she also thought about Mr England and his family every day.
“She understands very well that words give little comfort to the family. But all she can say is that she is very, very sorry.
“She really has no idea what happened. She has decided never to drive again,” he added.
Judge Huw Davies told Christopher, “Age caught up with you in a tragic way and without warning.
“You think you must have fallen asleep. There is no other explanation for what happened.”
He said Christopher had “taken a chance” by undertaking such a long journey at her age.
“That day, that drive was asking too much or your stamina. But you took the risk of carrying on,” he added.
Judge Davies said Christopher had been driving since 1960 and had an impeccable record.
But he had to pass a prison sentence that was aimed at the whole community and reflected the consequences of driving without due care.
Christopher, of Hoole Lane, Banks, Southport, was also ordered to pass an extended driving test should she ever want her licence back.
Man sentenced following Tregaron assault
FOLLOWING a report of an assault in Tregaron on Tuesday, April 3, Dyfed-Powys Police has arrested and charged Saul Rownan Henvey, aged 42, of Chapel Street, Tregaron, with common assault.
He was arrested following the incident, for which the victim required hospital treatment.
Henvey appeared before Llanelli Magistrates’ Courts on Friday, April 6.
He received a three month sentence, suspended for 12 months. He was also given a 12 month supervisory order and ordered to undergo 30 days of rehabilitation requirements.
Motorbike safety campaign launched across Wales
A CAMPAIGN aimed at reducing the risk of motorcycle-related deaths and serious injuries on the roads is underway across Wales.
As the weather improves police see more bikers on the roads, taking advantage of the beautiful routes across Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion, Pembrokeshire and Powys.
Dyfed-Powys Police is urging motorcyclists to ride safely and warns that until October there will be an increased focus as part of the campaign, named Op Darwen.
Superintendent Huw Meredith, Head of Specialist Operations, said: “Motorcyclists have long been identified as particularly vulnerable road users and reducing the number of road deaths and casualties on the roads of Dyfed-Powys is a priority for our Roads Policing Units.
“We have always welcomed motorcyclists from outside our borders to enjoy the magnificent landscape, but they must be aware that Dyfed-Powys Police is doing all it can to ensure our roads are used safely by all, with our Roads Policing Units taking robust action to prevent fatal or serious road traffic collisions on our roads.
“Everyone must take responsibility for their own and others safety on our roads and be aware of their riding and driving manner. Action will be taken against anyone choosing to ride or drive anti-socially, recklessly or illegally on our roads.
“Our officers see far too many tragedies, many preventable. Roads Policing officers will be out in numbers throughout Dyfed-Powys using a combination of education, engagement and enforcement to prevent further tragedies.”
Officers will also be encouraging riders to improve their biking skills by taking part in BikeSafe workshops, which
offer an insight into what can be achieved with further advanced training. The workshops, run by police forces around the UK, use a mix of discussions, on-road observed rides and information videos. They are designed to enhance the skills of all riders who have already passed their tests and are suitable for all abilities, from the most seasoned rider to those returning to biking after a period of absence.
Economy and Transport Secretary Ken Skates praised the campaign: “Our roads continue to be amongst the safest in the world.
“However, the number of motorcyclists being killed or seriously injured is still too high.
“Campaigns like this are a key part of a wider range of measures aimed at making our roads safer and preventing future motorcycling casualties. This holistic approach includes ensuring motorcyclists are prioritised in our road safety funding, supporting Go Safe’s operation of speed cameras and funding local authorities to deliver Bikesafe and other motorcyclist training.”
‘Race hate’ case will be heard at Crown Court
A BRYNAMMAN man who allegedly called for all Muslims to be ‘forcibly sterilised and banned from preaching their ‘evil creed’ in a social media post will have his case heard at Crown Court.
It s alleged that 34-year-old Jonathan Jennings posted nine offensive or threatening comments between March and April last year.
These are said to include threatening to ‘Jo Cox’ Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, hailing a man jailed for kicking a pregnant Muslim woman in the stomach as ‘a National Hero’ and suggesting that bombing mosques and ‘putting Muslim on top of bonfires’ were ‘great ideas’.
It is alleged that he said Hitler was born 100 years too soon, and called for Gina Miller to be ‘hunted down and executed’ over her stance on Brexit.
Appearing at Llanelli Magistrates’ Court wearing a blue military greatcoat, purple shirt, and yellow striped tie, Jennings, of Heol y Gelynen, spoke only to give the court his name, age and address.
Jennings’ solicitor said that he would not be entering a plea at this stage.
The District Judge declined jurisdiction, and Jennings was released on bail until May 18 at Swansea Crown Court, on condition that he does not post or repost anything on social media, or create any new accounts.
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