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Drink driver who killed student jailed

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Tragic: Miriam Briddon

Tragic: Miriam Briddon

A THERAPIST who killed a promising student just weeks before she was awarded a first class honours degree has been jailed for five and a half years this week.

Gareth Entwistle was over the drink drive limit when he entered a left hand bend and began to skid at 67 mph.

His silver Volkswagen Golf slid into the on coming side of the road and into the path of a Fiat Punto being driven by 21 year old, a promising fashion designer.

Enwtistle’s Golf was going so fast it pushed Miss Briddon’s car 15 metres backwards. She died instantly from head injuries.

Entwistle, aged 35, of Parc yr Hydd, Ciliau Aeron, admitted causing death by careless driving while being over the drink drive limit.

As well as the jail sentence he was banned from driving for five years and will have to pass an extended driving test to get his licence back.

At Monday’s sentencing hearing at Swansea Crown Court (Oct 5) Ian Wright, prosecuting, first dealt with the issue of how much Entwistle had drunk before the crash.

He maintained he could not remember drinking at all but a paramedic at the scene of the collision, at 7pm on March 29, 2014, could smell alcohol on his breath.

Mr Wright said a doctor treating Entwistle for his injuries took a blood sample at 11.55pm, five hours later, and that returned a reading of 89 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood, compared to a legal limit of 80.

Back calculations to determine how much alcohol had been in his blood at the time of the crash had returned a range of between 132 and 229, with a “most likely” figure of 181, or more than twice the limit.

Mr Wright said Entwistle’s defence team had disputed the figures, which had led to a long delay in the case.

However, Entwistle now accepted that he should be sentenced on the basis of the lowest of the back calculations, or 132 milligrams.

Mr Wright said Miss Briddon had been driving from her home in Cross Inn to spend the evening with her boyfriend Eric, a man she planned to marry, in Felinfach.

As she travelled along the A482 near Ciliau Aeron she was faced with Entwistle’s Golf driving straight at her on her side of the road.

Mr Wright said there were trees on either side of the road and she had “nowhere to go” apart from braking and maintaining a straight line.

Entwistle braked hard and tyre marks measuring 44 metres could be seen afterwards.

Mr Wright said the bend could be taken at up to 77mph. It was estimated that Entwistle had been driving at 67 mph at the point he began braking heavily.

Mr Wright said about one hour before the collision Sioned Owens had been driving home to Lampeter. She was confronted by Entwistle, who she knew, overtaking a tractor and heading straight for her and on her side of the road.  She braked and pulled to left and “narrowly” avoided a collision.

After his arrest Entwistle said he could not remember the collision at all although he could remember shopping in Lampeter.

Judge Huw Davies said he found that “hard to swallow.”

The court heard moving statements ready by Miss Briddon’s parents, Richard and Ceinwen, and her three sisters Lowri, Megan and Katie-Ann.

Mrs Briddon, then an art teacher and a head of year and a head of department, said she had taught her own daughter, who left school with five ‘A’ levels.

She described Miriam as “beautiful, innocent and talented” whose life had been taken by a man who had “driven like a madman while he was drunk.”

Mrs Briddon said the family would never be the same again.

Mr Briddon said he ran a garage business and had had to drive passed the spot where his daughter had died twice a day.

“Losing her has ripped out lives apart,” he added.

Mr Briddon said it was impossible to put his family’s loss into words. But he recalled how, two days after the tragedy, a farmer had walked into his home, sobbing and holding his cap in his hand. He stayed for 20 minutes before leaving without saying a word.

“No words were necessary,” said Mr Briddon.

He added that he had had to put up with seeing Entwistle walking around the area perfectly normally and then to see him attend court hearings wearing crutches.

Jim Davis, the barrister representing Entwistle, said he had told a probation officer that he could not begin to understand the impact the tragedy had had on Miriam’s loved ones.

“He said no words could convey how remorseful he is,” added Mr Davis.

Judge Davies said if Entwistle had been driving at 60mph, the limit for that stretch of road, he would have negotiated the bend, which he knew well, without crossing the centre white line.

“It was not simply that you went too fast, you had drunk too much.

“You say that you cannot remember anything about having been drinking that afternoon but you do remember that in Lampeter you went shopping.

“You still can’t cope with the shame of admitting what you well know, that you had been drinking somewhere before you got into that car.”

Judge Davies said the earlier incident with Sioned Owens should have served as a reminder to Entwistle that he needed to take care but it seemed to have had no effect at all.

Mariam’s family, he added, now knew what it was like to live in despair day by day.

He described the offending by Entwistle as falling into the most serious bracket.

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Communities and staff thanked for flood support

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COMMUNITIES and staff have been thanked for their work during the Storm Callum Floods. The October floods caused great damage to homes, businesses, roads and bridges in the south of Ceredigion. The floods were the biggest flood event in the last 31 years in Ceredigion.

During the flooding, the council supported the emergency services to prioritise the saving of lives. This included making sure that roads and bridges made dangerous by floodwater were closed. The council’s emergency response and recovery procedures were carried out during the event. Multi-agency emergency procedures were also carried out.

Ceredigion County Council Chief Executive, Mr Eifion Evans said, “Council staff went above and beyond their duties over the weekend of the floods. I saw their efforts with my own eyes; staff who weren’t on duty were offering to come in to help our residents. We had to send some staff home as they wanted to work longer than the 12 hour maximum that staff are allowed to work in one shift.

I have also been impressed by the huge efforts made by communities to help each other during, and in the aftermath of the flooding.”

After water levels dropped, council staff from Community Wellbeing, Housing and Highways Teams immediately went to the affected areas to offer practical support and advice. They also saw the extent of the damage that had been caused.

Everyone who has been in touch with the council has been offered help with housing, including being offered emergency temporary accommodation where needed. The Housing Team have worked with local landlords and B&B owners to provide additional accommodation, and to provide ongoing support for people who have been affected by the flood.

The Community Wellbeing Team have also provided advice and specialist equipment to residents to help to begin to dry out their homes. This support is ongoing.

The council organised drop-in sessions in Lampeter, Newcastle Emlyn, Llandysul and Llechryd. The sessions were attended by many organisations that can offer support and advice. The sessions gave residents the chance to ask the organisations any questions they had about recovering from the flood.

The Highways Team have arranged a free service to pick-up and dispose of flood damaged materials and have put skips in local household waste sites for flood damaged possessions. The team also cleared 100 tons of earth from the B4459 near Capel Dewi after a landslide covered the road. The Highways Team also repaired damaged roads and bridges.

Mr Evans continued, “The council is dedicated to helping our residents recover from the devastating effects of the recent floods. I understand that the impact is still very raw for people who have been affected, especially those who have been made homeless. I want to reassure every resident that our committed staff are working hard to help you. Despite severe pressure on council budgets, we will do everything in our power to continue to offer practical help to residents.”

A flood recovery group has met regularly to look at how the Council can target help in the most effective way. A further flood newsletter will be published in the near future. The Council will also be hosting flood advice surgeries and building on the work of developing emergency support groups for flooding.

More information about the help the council can offer is available on the website on www.ceredigion.gov.uk/stormcallumfloods

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Training company enjoy successful open evening

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HYFFORDDIANT CEREDIGION TRAINING (HCT) enjoyed a successful open evening on November 7 as it opened its doors to the public.

Opening HCT’s doors gave people the opportunity to see the fantastic range of training opportunities available for them. This included opportunities for young people who are interested in seeing what apprenticeships HCT has to offer.

Mark Gleeson, Manager for Post 14 Vocational Learning said, “It is important that HCT holds open evenings to showcase different learning opportunities that are available to all learners. HCT offers a large number of apprenticeships which ensures that the next generation of skilled workforce is being trained and employed by local companies. This is very important to the economy of Ceredigion.”

There was an opportunity to have a tour of the building, to speak to tutors, to have a look at the workshops, and to see trainees and apprentices in action. This gave a flavour of the kind of work that is done daily at the training centre.

Traineeships and apprenticeships, but also evening classes, are taught at HCT, as Councillor Catrin Miles, Cabinet Member for Learning Service and Lifelong Learning explains, “If studying towards a full qualification in a given trade is not what you are after, but you want to gain some of the basic skills in the various routes HCT specialises in, why not join an evening class? The next round of evening courses are beginning now. So, what are you waiting for? Contact HCT to see what it has to offer you.”

Evening classes run for six weeks and HCT offers these 2-3 times per year. HCT offers a range of vocational courses for people of all ages, including Hairdressing, Childcare, Business Administration, Information Technology, Carpentry, Plumbing, Electrics, Blacksmithing, Agriculture, Motor Mechanics and Welding.

For more information, find ‘Hyfforddiant Ceredigion Training’ on Facebook, or visit the website, http://www.ceredigion.gov.uk/public-it/hct/index.html

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Vandalism at coastguard lookout point

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POLICE are investigating vandalism at the old coastguard lookout point at Bird’s Rock.

A council spokesperson said: “We’re very sad to see vandalism to the old coastguard look out at Bird’s Rock on the coastal path a mile to the west of New Quay last week.

“All five windows was smashed – some even had their wooden frames ripped out.”

Melanie Heath, Ceredigion County Council’s Marine Protected Area Officer, added: “This act of vandalism is so distressing to see. The look-out was restored thanks to a special grant from the Crown Estate. It is used by our Dolphin and Porpoise Watch volunteers throughout the monitoring season. It is also a special place for many local people and visitors alike to sit for a while and take in the spectacular views of Cardigan Bay.”

If anyone has any information, contact Heddlu Dyfed Powys Police on 101

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