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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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Appeal following Aberystwyth assault

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Dyfed-Powys Police is appealing for witnesses following a suspected assault in Aberystwyth on Saturday, February 1.

A 59-year-old man sustained serious injuries and was taken to hospital.

A 22-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of ABH and released under investigation.

The incident occurred at around 9.30pm on the corner of Upper Portland Street and Terrace Road.

Police are aware there were a number of people in the vicinity at the time of the incident and would like to speak to anyone who saw what happened, or may have information that could help the investigation.

Please call 101, visit bit.ly/DPPReportOnline or email contactcentre@dyfed-powys.pnn.police.uk.

If you are deaf, hard of hearing, or speech impaired you can also text the non-emergency number on 07811 311 908.

Please quote reference DPP/1743/01/02/2020/02/C.

Information can also be given anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

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Leading the way in managing planning

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A KEY Officer in Ceredigion leads the way in sharing what it’s like to have a career in planning.

Russell Hughes-Pickering is Ceredigion County Council’s Corporate Lead Officer for Economy and Regeneration, which involves being the head of planning. He has been part of an informative article in February 2020’s edition of ‘The Planner’, the official magazine of the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI).

Russell Hughes-Pickering is one of twelve Corporate Lead Officers who sit on the council’s Leadership Group. He says planners need to “be politically astute and look above plans and policies”. This means understanding the organisation, their role in delivering corporate objectives and thinking strategically “so they see how they fit in across the board and in turn help deliver better services and better places for people.”

Russell left Llandovery College in 1985 to start a degree in planning at the University of Westminster. He started work at the London Borough of Hounslow in 1989 as a planner before becoming the lead officer in development plan work in 1997.

The RTPI’s article delves into the careers of a chief planning officer and is campaigning for heads of planning to be incorporated into local authority senior leadership teams. This is amid fears of a declining profile and diminishing corporate presence of spatial planning.

Russell continues, “The more I’ve been involved in preparing corporate plans or the council’s development programme, the easier it is to see, influence and ensure planning is involved at the right time. This has helped avoid issues when major projects go through their planning stage, whether that’s a town centre development, a change to a care home or a new school. Fortunately, I’m involved in an excellent leadership group where the culture focuses on improvement and helping each other to achieve better services.”

He moved back to Aberystwyth in 2000 when taking up the Principal Forward Planner role at Ceredigion, before becoming the Assistant Director for Planning in 2006. This job evolved from a primarily planning remit to one that also included building control and housing matters. In May 2013, he became Head of Performance and Improvement, then became Head of Performance and Economy in 2015. From 01 April 2018, Russell has been the Council’s Corporate Lead Officer for Economy and Regeneration.

When asked what advice Russell would give younger colleagues, he wants to see more authorities improve arrangements on major development projects by setting up corporate development and project management groups and involve planners in them. He also wants to involve the next generation of planners. He said, “Young planners should get involved in these as much as possible so they’re involved in a wide range of service improvements, embrace projects or new development, seek ways to help progress and improve them, and engage in a positive way.”

Councillor Rhodri Evans is the Cabinet Member for Economy and Regeneration, which includes planning. He said, “We are grateful to Russell for his vision and strong voice for planning matters in Ceredigion. A planner has a big part to play in helping to develop and deliver corporate priorities. It shapes the future of our county for future generations.”

The council’s decision to prioritise the planning process shows how the council is working to reach its corporate priorities of boosting the economy and Promoting Environmental and Community Resilience.

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Elin Jones calls on Ceredigion community groups to apply for ATM fund

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Elin Jones, Assembly Member for Ceredigion, has called on community groups to apply for The Community Access to Cash Pilot in order to make sure that ATMs are readily available in rural communities.

The initiative has been launched by UK Finance, the collective voice for the banking and finance industry in the UK.

Responding, Elin Jones AM said:

“Access to cash is still essential for many people, but getting access to cash can be particularly difficult for many communities. We’ve seen bank closures in many towns in Ceredigion, particularly in rural areas, despite opposition from customers in many market towns. Mobile banks do sometimes ease the burden, but the availability of these services is often infrequent.

“I’m glad this initiative has been launched in order to help local communities to identify and secure appropriate access to cash and payment services.

“Community groups are being encouraged to access the fund by applying on the UK Finance website, and I would be happy to assist any community group that is interested in applying. Please feel free to contact my office and I would be happy to help in any way that I can.”

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