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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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Alerts issued ahead of Storm Brian

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NATURAL RESOURCE WALES (NRW) is warning people that parts of the Welsh coast could see localised flooding as Storm Brian combines with high tides this evening and tomorrow.

The conditions could cause a storm surge, which in some areas could lead to overtopping of sea defences. Current predictions show that the worst affected areas are likely to be along exposed sections of the west coast of Wales from Southern Gwynedd to Llantwit Major.

High tides in these locations are expected to peak between 6am and 11am tomorrow (Oct 21).

NRW has already issued a number of flood alerts for the west coast, and is likely to issue flood warnings for Aberystwyth and Newgale later today. Further alerts or warnings for other areas will be issued as necessary.

24/7 Emergency response workers from NRW will be out at key areas of the coast over the next couple of day to monitor the high tides and condition of its sea flood defences.

NRW has also contacted its partner agencies such as local councils and the emergency services to ensure that appropriate responses are in place should the need arise.

Richard Hancox, from Natural Resources Wales said: “Conditions across the coastline are likely to be extremely dangerous this weekend and we urge people to stay clear, and avoid visiting the coast during this time.

“We know people are tempted to try and take photos of these storms, but it really isn’t worth putting your life at risk. Sea spray and flood water can knock you off your feet easier than you might think, and the large waves can send debris flying onto shore.

“If anyone is concerned about the risk of flooding to their home, please check to see if flood warnings are available in your area, and visit our website for advice on how best to prepare.”

Flood alerts and flood warnings are updated on the Natural Resources Wales website every 15 minutes.

Information and updates are also available by calling Floodline on 0345 988 1188. People can also register for free flood warnings either by calling the Floodline number or at NRW’s website.

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​Major bequests for Aber research ​

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TWO major legacies to support postgraduate research have been announced at Aberystwyth University’s Founders’ Day held in the Old College on October 13.

The University revealed that Eleanor and David James had donated £2m to the institution where they both worked for 35 years, while former student Margaret Wooloff has bequeathed £400,000.

Both bequests will be used to fund postgraduate research at the University, in line with the wishes of the benefactors.

The legacies were announced as part of the University’s now annual Founders’ event, which echoes the celebrations held in the town back in October 1872 when the first students arrived at Old College.

The Vice-Chancellor of Aberystwyth University, Professor Elizabeth Treasure, said: “It is extremely fitting that these very special bequests have been the focal point of this year’s Founders’ Day event. They remind us how the University has been supported since its early beginnings by the generosity of the people of Wales and the wider world.

“Eleanor and David James, and Margaret Wooloff all dedicated their lives to the furtherance of knowledge and their valuable contributions to education in Wales will live on in their legacies. We owe them a huge debt of gratitude.”

The Director of Development and Alumni Relations at Aberystwyth University, Louise Jagger, said: “There is a very strong bond between the University and our family of alumni across the world. Eleanor and David James and Margaret Wooloff were all active members of the Old Students’ Association during their lives and we are immensely grateful to them for their support over the years. Their generous legacies will now enable the scholars of the future to pursue their particular fields of expertise and undertake research with impact, which is integral to our mission as a leading University.”

Members of the local community joined staff and students at the Old College to mark Founders’ Day.

The guest speaker at the event was Ceredigion MP Ben Lake who said: “The story of how Aberystwyth University – or the University College of Wales as it was originally called – is one in which we can all take pride as a nation. Driven by the vision of its founders, the dream of establishing a college with University status in Wales was made possible thanks to the generosity of ordinary people. The roots and foundations of the University reflect our values in Wales and it is vitally important that we commemorate and celebrate this very special heritage.

“May I take this opportunity to congratulate Aberystwyth on being named recently as the University of the Year for Teaching Quality by the Good University Guide – a well deserved accolade which is testament to the dedication of all its staff.”

In July 2017, the Heritage Lottery Fund announced that it had earmarked £10.5m for ambitious plans to redevelop Old College in time for the University’s 150th anniversary in 2022.

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Driving Wales to international skills success

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AS SKILLS CHAMPION for Wales, Coleg Sir Gâr and Coleg Ceredigion principal Barry Liles is at the forefront of aspiring young people to develop high quality, world-class skills.

The vehicle used to drive this ambition are skills competitions, which are held on a Welsh, UK and international level.

Competitions in Wales begin with regional Welsh Government supported competitions which are events that culminate to find Wales’ top competitors who progress to take part in UKSkills national and WorldSkills international events.

This year, 36 competitors from the UK are competing at WorldSkills Abu Dhabi, four of which are from Wales, two of which represent Coleg Sir Gâr, which is an impressive percentage of UK representation. These competitors have undergone a rigorous training process by WorldSkills UK, supported by training providers and employers.

Coleg Sir Gâr students have been selected for Team UK since 2009 when carpentry student Cliff Williams made the team in 2009 competing in WorldSkills Calgary. He was followed by web designer David Bowen who competed for in WorldSkills London, 2011. Carpenter Gareth Jones won gold in EuroSkills in 2012 followed by Simon McCall and Eleni Constantinou who won two silvers at EuroSkills in 2014 for hairdressing and carpentry with Eleni progressing to represent the UK and Coleg Sir Gâr in hairdressing at WorldSkills, Sao Paulo in 2015.

Last year, the college was ranked joint third place in the UK for its medal success in the Skills Show – the UK final, for achieving three golds, one silver and one bronze award. The show, held at Birmingham’s NEC every year, brings together medal winners from all nations to compete and showcase their skills and to hopefully continue their journey to the international arena, representing the UK in Worldskills which brings over 50 competing countries together and is likened to the Olympic games.

Barry Liles, Skills Champion for Wales said: “To have an impact on the economy and raise Wales and UK’s GVA, we must raise the skills of the UK population and we’re trying to do this from a young age and we’re significantly targeting industries that are important to Wales’ economy.

“The anticipated result is hoped to impact on young people and help them raise their ambitions and to find highly skilled work.”

In Wales, to help achieve this ambition, is a Welsh-Government funded project called Inspiring Skills Excellence (ISE), which is providing a supportive infrastructure to enable competitors from Wales to achieve success at national and international level.

“Much of our work is supporting competitors across Wales in their participation, training and mentoring to help them achieve excellence in skills relevant to economic growth and delivering medal winning success at national and international competitions,” said Paul Evans, ISE pan-coordinator for Wales.

“Using state of the art equipment we also engage with schools, providing hands-on and exciting experiences for young people to raise awareness of careers and the pathways available to them.”

Barry Liles added: “Being Skills Champion for Wales is a long-held ambition perhaps because I came from a vocational engineering background, I am very passionate about it.

“Industry skills are vital in our economy and I don’t want Wales to be left behind, in fact in the last seven years we have helped drive the nation forward to being one of the leading and successful nations in UK skills competitions.”

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