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.
New Quay RNLI crew members pass out as ILB helms
NEW QUAY RNLI crew members Huw Williams and Dylan Price recently passed out as inshore lifeboat helms.
They were put through their paces by an RNLI Assessor on Monday (Aug 13) with a written exam ashore and a practical assessment afloat on the D class inshore lifeboat.
Roger Couch, Lifeboat Operation Manager of New Quay RNLI said: “As well as responding to emergencies our volunteer crew members spend a lot of time training in order to maintain their knowledge and skills.
“Both crew members have worked very hard over the past 12 months to complete all the training units needed and have now passed the final stage.
“Our lifeboats are on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, all year round and having seven qualified helms for our inshore lifeboat provides us with additional flexibility.”
Huw Williams added:“Dylan and I would like to thank all the crew here at New Quay lifeboat station for their help over the last 12 months. We could not have done it without their support.”
Schools succeed in A-Level results
A-LEVEL examination results published yesterday(16 August) by the WJEC indicate that high standards are being achieved in Ceredigion schools.
Councillor Catrin Miles, Cabinet member with responsibility for Learning Services said: “Our sincere congratulations are extended to Ceredigion sixth form students who, once again have excelled in their A Levels. Thank you to all school staff, Governors and parents who have supported our young people to fulfil their potential.
“Their successes are a testament to our pupils’ efforts and hard work, in addition to the quality of education provided by teachers in Ceredigion. We are proud of the well-deserved achievements of our young people and wish them well in the future.”
Nearly 27% of Ceredigion entries achieved A* – A grades and 77% of entries achieved A*- C grades. A pass rate of 98% was achieved by Ceredigion students.
|Grade A* – A||26.8%||26.3%|
|Grade A* – B||56.7%||n/a|
|Grade A* – C||77.1%||n/a|
|Grade A* – E||97.8%||97.4%|
Compared with last year, 6% more of Ceredigion entries achieved A*-A grades. The number of entries that have achieved A*-A, and A*-E in Ceredigion is higher than the Welsh average.
Man assaulted nurses while being restrained
A PRE-SENTENCE report will be prepared on a Ceredigion man who assaulted two nurses and destroyed an extractor fan.
Lewis Hill, aged 24, of Brynhoffnant, appeared before Haverfordwest Magistrates Court on Tuesday (Aug 14) to plead guilty to the three charges.
Prosecuting, Mr Vaughan Pritchard-Jones told the Court: “At 11pm in the evening on January 30, the defendant was on the roof of Bronglais Hospital threatening to jump off. Police and medical personnel attended and were able to talk him down.
“He was taken to the Cwm Seren ward in St Davids Park, Carmarthen, where they arrived at 1:03am the following morning. During the course of being assessed he became aggressive and had to be restrained by staff. He kicked out at the first nurse and was then put on the floor.
“Whilst on the floor he was throwing his head back and forth and the staff nurse, who was concerned for him, tried to hold his head but he continued to throw his head and because of the force he was using he trapped her finger onto the floor.
“The charge did originally read as common assault but the nurse went to get her finger x-rayed which revealed the fracture.
“After that incident he got free and he started damaging an extractor fan which he completely destroyed.
“I am not sure why the case has taken so long to come here but at the time of the offence he was on a suspended prison sentence, the period for which has now elapsed.”
Defending, Mrs Katie Hanson added: “He is extremely sorry for his actions on that night. He was on the roof of Bronglais Hospital trying to commit suicide. There are serious mental health issues but he accepts he was struggling on the floor but he did not intentionally hurt anyone and he apologises for his actions.”
Magistrates ordered that a pre-sentence report be prepared and Hill was released on unconditional bail and must return to court on Wednesday, August 29 for sentencing.
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