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.
Pubs, restaurants and cafes in Wales will be banned from serving alcohol from Friday
PUBS, restaurants and cafes in Wales will be banned from serving alcohol from Friday and will be unable to open to customers beyond 18:00 HTS.
First Minister Mark Drakeford announced the new rules to tackle a rise in coronavirus cases.
Cinemas, bowling alleys, bingo halls, museums and galleries will also need to shut from Friday.
Mr Drakeford said without changes there could be between 1,000 and
1,700 preventable deaths over the winter.
Businesses will be allowed to provide a takeaway service after 18:00 of food or non-alcoholic drinks.
First Minister Mark Drakeford made the announcement during the Welsh Government briefing at 12.15pm on Monday, November 30.
The new restrictions are modelled on Scotland’s Tier 3 restrictions – you can see more details of the announcement here and follow below for live updates from Mr Drakeford’s press conference.
Mr Drakeford said said the measures were based on advice from the UK’s Sage group of scientific advisors and would be reviewed on December 17.
“From 6pm on Friday, our national measures will be amended to introduce new restrictions for hospitality and indoor entertainment attractions,” he said.
“Pubs, bars, restaurants and cafes will have to close by 6pm and will not be allowed to serve alcohol. After 6pm they will only be able to provide takeaway services.
“From the same date, indoor entertainment venues, including cinemas, bingo halls, bowling alleys, soft play centres, casinos, skating rinks and amusement arcades, must close.
“Indoor visitor attractions, such as museums, galleries and heritage sites will also have to close. Outdoor visitor attractions will remain open.”
At Friday’s Welsh Government press conference, First Minister Mark Drakeford said that further restrictions on hospitality would be needed to ensure that there is enough headroom for Wales to relax coronavirus restrictions in time for Christmas.
He said the R number in Wales is now as high as 1.4 meaning the virus is spreading exponentially again.
He said that discussions were underway to finalise the details of the new arrangements and there would be a “major package of financial support”. He said more details would be announced on Monday.
He said: “The Cabinet has agreed to take further specific and targeted action to reinforce the current national measures we have place.
“We will focus these on places where we meet and where coronavirus thrives, drawing on the recent evidence from the UK Sage group of experts about what interventions have had the biggest impact on the virus.
” It has highlighted the positive impact of measures in the Scottish level three system and the English tier three restrictions.
” We are already doing many of these here in Wales. Any additional actions we will take will build on the Sage advice but will be bespoke to our unique circumstances.
“Cinemas, bowling alleys and other indoor entertainment venues will close.
“There will be new restrictions in the hospitality industry, which will come into effect next Friday.
“The sector has worked hard to put in place measures to protect the public and I know this will be a worrying time for all working in the industry.
“We will be working over the weekend with partners to finalise the details of the new arrangements and to put in place a further major package of financial support to respond to those changes.
“I will give further details about the package on Monday.
“Non-essential retail; hairdressers; gyms and leisure centres will continue to operate as now.
“These new arrangements will apply to the whole of Wales.”
Mr Drakeford said it was needed because there were very high rates in some parts of Wales.
He said: “All this is necessary because we need a further national effort to bring down rates in those parts of the country where they are high and to protect those areas from getting any worse, where cases are lower.
“A national approach can protect us all.”
He added: “We are particularly concerned about the increases we’re seeing in people under 25.
“Over the course of the pandemic, this is how the virus has spread – initially among younger age groups and then to older and more vulnerable groups.
Mr Drakeford said Wales would not be able to relax restrictions at Christmas unless he took action now.
He said: “Earlier this week, I met the First Ministers from Scotland and Northern Ireland and Michael Gove, from the UK Government, to discuss a common set of arrangements for Christmas.
“We agreed a five-day period between December 23 and 27 where travel restrictions would be lifted across the UK and up to three households would be able to form a Christmas bubble.
“Relaxing the restrictions will allow families to be together – maybe for the first time this year – for a few days over the festive period.
“But there is always a risk that when we come together we will spread or catch the virus.
“We therefore need to make sure have as much headroom as possible as we approach this Christmas period to enable us to relax these restrictions.
“This week we have seen restrictions tightened and extended in many countries across Europe.
“The UK Government has announced a strengthened tier regime, which comes into force in England from Wednesday. Northern Ireland today starts a new two-week lockdown and Scotland has extended the highest level restrictions.
“We too now have to use the coming weeks to reduce the spread of the virus and create more headroom for the Christmas period.”
Jail after heroin worth £45,000 seized
AN ABERYSTYWYTH woman has been jailed, and an organised crime gang disrupted, after heroin worth £45,000 was found at her home.
Dyfed-Powys Police found more than 400g of the class A drug during a warrant at Susan Marie Proffitt’s home – resulting in one of the force’s largest single seizures of heroin in Ceredigion.
The result has disrupted an active organised crime gang supplying class A drugs to the area.
Sergeant Steven Jones said: “This swift and thorough investigation involved officers and staff from departments across the division, who worked together to secure this result.
“The defendant had a huge amount of heroin at her home, with efforts taken to conceal bags of the drug around the property.
“There is no doubt that in taking Proffitt out of the supply chain we will have disrupted an organised crime gang which she was a trusted part of in supplying heroin into the division.”
Officers carried out a warrant at the 52-year-old’s home in South Road on August 30, 2020.
On searching the property, a box containing 408g of heroin was found concealed in a vent under the staircase, and two further wraps were found in a shower head bracket. Fingerprint marks matching those of Proffitt were found on these items.
Four mobile phones were also seized from the property.
Sgt Jones said: “The quantity of heroin recovered is far in excess of what he would expect to see someone who is simply a user to be in possession of for their own use.
“Given the value of the heroin recovered and the financial circumstances of the defendant, we were confident it was unlikely she would be able to fund a purchase of such a quantity of heroin without being involved in the supply of drugs.
“The only realistic reason for possessing this quantity of heroin was for supply onto others.”
Proffitt was charged with possession with intent to supply, and pleaded guilty. She was sentenced to 57 months in prison when she appeared at Swansea Crown Court on Thursday, November 26.
New permanent walk-in test centre opens in Aberystwyth
PEOPLE in Aberystwyth with symptoms of COVID-19 now have access to a permanent walk-in testing facility.
Hywel Dda University Health Board has arranged for a Local Testing Site (LTS) to be located inside the former Padarn Nursery building, (behind, but not connected to, Padarn Surgery), on Penglais Road.
Local people should avoid using the nearby nursery car park, leaving it free for those people accessing tests to park there. People who attend the walk-in centre must wear a face covering.
Meanwhile, the drive-through facility at Canolfan Rheidol has now been relocated to Cardigan in response to a rise in cases in that area. Residents of Aberystwyth will not be impacted by this move as there is plenty of testing capacity at the LTS.
Alison Shakeshaft, Director of Therapies & Health Science at Hywel Dda University Health Board, said: “We are very pleased to have secured this LTS for the people of Aberystwyth. Many residents in the town, including students, do not have their own private vehicle in order to access drive-through testing facilities, so the option of a walk-in facility is very important.
“This is a challenging time and I urge everyone to remain vigilant and follow the rules, including wearing face coverings where required, maintain social distancing, washing hands regularly, or using a hand sanitiser if hand washing is not possible.”
Anyone who has symptoms of the virus (a new persistent cough, high temperature or loss/change of taste or smell) must book a test as soon as possible. This can be done through the online UK portal at www.gov.wales/coronavirus.
University students with COVID-19 symptoms, when booking a test, are required to provide their local address in Aberystwyth.
Please do not book a test if you do not have COVID-19 symptoms and do not attend testing centres without booking first as you will not be seen without an appointment.
Please follow the latest self-isolation guidelines which can be found here.
For the latest news and updated from Hywel Dda University Health Board visit https://hduhb.nhs.wales/
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