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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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River benefits after polluter pays

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A MAJOR river pollution incident in Mid Wales has cost a company £40,000.

Pencefn Feeds Ltd, near Tregaron has paid the sum after a detailed investigation by Natural Resources Wales (NRW) into the incident in December 2016.

Around 18,000 fish are thought to have been killed on a five-mile stretch of the Teifi when approximately 44,000 gallons of pollutant leaked from an anaerobic digestion plant.

The West Wales Rivers Trust will receive £15,000 to restore fish habitat in the area.

And a further £5,000 will go to the Countryside Alliance Foundation to fund education activities about fish and the local environment for children in the Tregaron area.

The payments are consistent with a potential fine and have been made as an “enforcement undertaking”. This means that the money directly benefits the local environment.

The final £20,000 is being paid to recover all investigation and legal costs relating to the case.
Ann Weedy, Mid Wales operations manager for Natural Resources Wales, said: “This has been a very complex and time-consuming investigation and we are pleased to see the financial penalty being
used directly to repair some of the damage caused by this incident.

“This will make the Teifi a better place for fish and other wildlife by fencing river banks and developing riverside vegetation.

“We hope these payments serve as a reminder to businesses that we will take enforcement action if they pollute Wales’ environment and don’t operate responsibly.”

As well as investigating the incident and overseeing the clean-up operation, NRW also investigated the roles of all companies involved in the incident.

However, the sub-contractor mainly responsible for the incident, Hallmark Power Ltd, went into liquidation so no prosecution could be taken against them. And the main contractor, ComBigaS UK, also no longer exists, so no action could be taken against them either.

ComBigaS Denmark had links to the project but has no legal basis in the UK and is therefore not covered by UK law.

Site owner, Pencefn Feeds Ltd, had raised concerns with the companies about the quality of work, but this had not been acted upon. This would have provided significant mitigation if the matter had gone to court, so NRW concluded that accepting an enforcement undertaking was the best option in this case.

Dr Stephen Marsh-Smith OBE, Director of Afonydd Cymru, the umbrella body that represents Wales’ six Rivers Trusts commented: “This was a tragic case that was bad for the river Teifi and its
fisheries.

“Nonetheless, we commend the use of an Enforcement Undertaking to resolve the regulatory aspect of the case as some funding will now be put towards restoration within the catchment itself.

“The resolution of longer term damage remains a separate issue.”

Rachel Evans, Countryside Alliance Director for Wales, said: “Fishing for Schools is always grateful to receive funding to help us reach out to more young people who benefit from our unique approach to education through angling.

“Funding coming from a pollution incident and resultant settlement whilst sad, will highlight the ever-present need to align conservation and the environment with our school work.

“Tregaron has always been a bedrock of angling within the Welsh community and heritage. We fully intend to enhance and extend that rich legacy by putting this award to good use.”
NRW has been monitoring the Teifi since the incident and confirms there has been minimal effect on invertebrates.

Salmon fry have been found in the affected area, so it is likely that at least some eggs did survive.

However, juvenile and adult salmon were killed. Large numbers of brown trout were also killed, and this species will take some time to recover.

Ann Weedy continued: “The Teifi is one of the most iconic and important recreational and net fisheries in Wales and an internationally important Special Area of Conservation for endangered fish such as lampreys, salmon and bullhead.

“We all need to work together to do all we can to restore the river and reduce the number of pollution incidents damaging our precious environment in Wales.”
NRW has carried out more than 100 pollution prevention visits to farms in Ceredigion and the Teifi catchment in the past year and these have helped reduce the risk of pollution from farm slurry.

It has also inspected the other three anaerobic digestion plants in Ceredigion to ensure that their pollution prevention measures are suitable.
Pencefn Feeds Ltd has now applied for an environmental permit so they can continue to operate (see additional information for more details).

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River benefits after polluter pays

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A MAJOR river pollution incident in Mid Wales has cost a company £40,000.

Pencefn Feeds Ltd, near Tregaron has paid the sum after a detailed investigation by Natural Resources Wales (NRW) into the incident in December 2016.

Around 18,000 fish are thought to have been killed on a five-mile stretch of the Teifi when approximately 44,000 gallons of pollutant leaked from an anaerobic digestion plant.

The West Wales Rivers Trust will receive £15,000 to restore fish habitat in the area.

And a further £5,000 will go to the Countryside Alliance Foundation to fund education activities about fish and the local environment for children in the Tregaron area.

The payments are consistent with a potential fine and have been made as an “enforcement undertaking”. This means that the money directly benefits the local environment.
The final £20,000 is being paid to recover all investigation and legal costs relating to the case.

Ann Weedy, Mid Wales operations manager for Natural Resources Wales, said: “This has been a very complex and time-consuming investigation and we are pleased to see the financial penalty being used directly to repair some of the damage caused by this incident.

“This will make the Teifi a better place for fish and other wildlife by fencing river banks and developing riverside vegetation.

“We hope these payments serve as a reminder to businesses that we will take enforcement action if they pollute Wales’ environment and don’t operate responsibly.”

As well as investigating the incident and overseeing the clean-up operation, NRW also investigated the roles of all companies involved in the incident.

However, the sub-contractor mainly responsible for the incident, Hallmark Power Ltd, went into liquidation so no prosecution could be taken against them. And the main contractor, ComBigaS UK, also no longer exists, so no action could be taken against them either.

ComBigaS Denmark had links to the project but has no legal basis in the UK and is therefore not covered by UK law.

Site owner, Pencefn Feeds Ltd, had raised concerns with the companies about the quality of work, but this had not been acted upon. This would have provided significant mitigation if the matter had gone to court, so NRW concluded that accepting an enforcement undertaking was the best option in this case.

Dr Stephen Marsh-Smith OBE, Director of Afonydd Cymru, the umbrella body that represents Wales’ six Rivers Trusts commented: “This was a tragic case that was bad for the river Teifi and its fisheries.

“Nonetheless, we commend the use of an Enforcement Undertaking to resolve the regulatory aspect of the case as some funding will now be put towards restoration within the catchment itself.
“The resolution of longer term damage remains a separate issue.”

Rachel Evans, Countryside Alliance Director for Wales, said: “Fishing for Schools is always grateful to receive funding to help us reach out to more young people who benefit from our unique approach to education through angling.

“Funding coming from a pollution incident and resultant settlement whilst sad, will highlight the ever-present need to align conservation and the environment with our school work.

“Tregaron has always been a bedrock of angling within the Welsh community and heritage. We fully intend to enhance and extend that rich legacy by putting this award to good use.”

NRW has been monitoring the Teifi since the incident and confirms there has been minimal effect on invertebrates.

Salmon fry have been found in the affected area, so it is likely that at least some eggs did survive.

However, juvenile and adult salmon were killed. Large numbers of brown trout were also killed, and this species will take some time to recover.

Ann Weedy continued: “The Teifi is one of the most iconic and important recreational and net fisheries in Wales and an internationally important Special Area of Conservation for endangered fish such as lampreys, salmon and bullhead.

“We all need to work together to do all we can to restore the river and reduce the number of pollution incidents damaging our precious environment in Wales.”
NRW has carried out more than 100 pollution prevention visits to farms in Ceredigion and the Teifi catchment in the past year and these have helped reduce the risk of pollution from farm slurry.

It has also inspected the other three anaerobic digestion plants in Ceredigion to ensure that their pollution prevention measures are suitable.

Pencefn Feeds Ltd has now applied for an environmental permit so they can continue to operate (see additional information for more details).

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Ceredigion County Council’s Apprenticeship recruitment campaign is now live

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THE council’s 2019 Apprenticeship programme is now open for applications until Sunday 22 September.

A council apprenticeship gives learners the opportunity to build skills and confidence while earning a salary and gaining a nationally recognised qualification. With roles available in Business Administration, ICT Technical Support and Social Care teams, there is an opportunity for everyone.

The first year of the programme is nearing an end and has been a great success. Alanah Lloyd recently completed a Business Administration Apprenticeship. She said: “I would recommend doing an apprenticeship at Ceredigion County Council to all my friends. I enjoyed the balance of real responsibilities and having the space to keep on learning.”

Maria Lloyd, Alanah’s mother said: “When Alanah was successful with her application I was delighted. It gave her the opportunity to show her work ethic and continue with her education in an organisation where there is career progression. Alanah has now gained a permanent position at the council. I would highly recommend apprenticeships to other parents.”

Lynne Connolly, Apprenticeship and Work Experience Coordinator, Ceredigion County Council said: “This year we are continuing to demonstrate our commitment to ‘grow our own’, offering opportunities for school and college leavers to continue education in a working environment and for members of the community looking to return to work or change career. All our apprentices are paid well above the minimum apprentice wage which reflects how much we value their contribution.”

To apply and find out more visit career.ceredigion.gov.uk or contact us at apprentice@ceredigion.gov.uk.

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