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Teenage driver killed man 12 weeks after passing driving test

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A TEENAGE driver killed a man just 12 weeks after passing her driving test, a judge heard today (Oct 12).

Hanna Lewis, now 18, lost control on a sweeping bend and her red Audi ploughed head-on into a Rover driven by Bryan Smithers.

Mr Smithers, who was still working as an accountant at the age of 79, died at the scene from multiple injuries.

Lewis’ friend and front seat passenger, Bronwen Tinney, suffered serious back injuries and will need further treatment more than a year after the accident.

Lewis, of Dolau Gwynon, Llandovery, admitted causing death by careless driving. She was jailed for eight months, suspended for two years, and banned from driving for three years.

She must also complete 200 hours of unpaid work for the community.

Georgina Buckley, prosecuting, told Swansea Crown Court how Mr Smithers had been on his way home from Carmarthen Bridge Club, where he was the treasurer, at 10.15pm on August 29 last year.

Lewis went into the left hand bend, on the B4312 between Llangain and Llansteffan, at 55mph and lost control. Her car ended up on the wrong side of the road.

Immediately after the collision Lewis, then a 17-year-old schoolgirl, tried to save Mr Smithers.

The collision had been heard by Paul Norman, a retired nurse who lived nearby, who raced to the scene. But it was already too late to help Mr Smithers.

But, with the help of two passers-by, he continued to try and revive Mr Smithers until an ambulance arrived.

Miss Buckley said Lewis was tested for alcohol and drugs and the results were negative.

After her arrest, Lewis told police she had swerved to the right to try and avoid a collision.

During a second interview, the conclusions of a road traffic investigator were put to her and she refused to answer any more questions.

In a victim impact statement Mr Smithers’ widow, Margaret, said they had been together for 45 years.

“I have lost my best friend and my carer,” she added.

Mr Smithers had been an accountant all his working life and had run a successful business.

Nicholas Gedge, the barrister representing Lewis, said she had been an inexperienced driver who was not used to the road or at driving in the dark.

She was now at university, he added.

“She cannot say or do anything that would mitigate the loss to Mr Smithers’ family,” he added.

Judge Keith Thomas said human life could not be measured by a court sentence.

“You were inexperienced at driving and at driving at night.

“It has had a devastating effect on Mr Smithers’ family. He was a large part of their lives and the life of the community.

“The consequences have been catastrophic.”

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Drink driver was twice the limit

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A 46-YEAR-OLD man appeared before magistrates at Llanelli Law Court on Thursday (Nov 8) to face a charge of drink driving.

Matthew Francis of Gelli Deg, Llanelli, pleaded guilty to driving his Ford Focus in Llanelli on October 19, whilst over the drink drive limit.

Prosecutor, Sharon Anderson, said: “At 10.20pm police received a call from a member of the public. They were directed to his home address and found the vehicle of the driveway with Francis in the driver seat, and the keys in the ignition.

“He had driven back from a wedding and said he had 3-4 cans. He was arrested and later said he had 6-8 cans of lager and had placed the cans in the garden. Police checked the garden but there was nothing there.

“At half past midnight, Francis completed the intoxiliser and was found to have 70mg of alcohol in 100ml of breath. He was spoken to in an interview and said the van was his and nobody else was insured.”

Magistrates fined Francis £120 and ordered him to pay £30 victim surcharge and £85 prosecution costs. He was also disqualified from driving for 17 months.

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Police operation to get uninsured drivers off the road

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THIS week Dyfed-Powys Police along with other forces in England, Wales and Northern Ireland will be taking part in Operation Drive Insured, in a week of enhanced operations to remove uninsured drivers from UK roads and help protect road users.

Uninsured drivers are often involved in a wide range of criminal activities. Every year the Motor Insurers’ Bureau (MIB) Police Helpline records hundreds of incidents where an uninsured driver is found without a valid driving licence or using an untaxed or stolen vehicle. Records also show a number of offenders are caught driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Drivers without insurance are more dangerous than insured drivers and cause a high number of accidents. One contributing factor is because those driving with insurance are encouraged to display safer behaviour and meet road legal requirements to help keep policy costs down.

In 2017 MIB received 11,000 claims from victims of uninsured drivers, with hundreds of people who had suffered catastrophic, life-changing injuries.

MIB supports victims of uninsured and hit and run drivers by providing a last resort for claims and compensation. The annual cost to compensate victims of uninsured drivers comes to over £100 million and is funded by the motor insurance premiums of all law-abiding motorists.

Neil Drane, Head of Enforcement at MIB, said: “A driver with no valid insurance has no legal right to be on the road and removing them undoubtedly makes roads safer. The increased activity during Operation Drive Insured should get more of these drivers off our roads.”

Using data from the Motor Insurance Database (MID) – a central record of all UK motor insurance policies – police are using ANPR cameras to easily identify and stop motorists that appear to be uninsured. MIB’s police helpline supports roadside officers by investigating further and liaising with insurers to confirm whether there is valid insurance in place or not.

Any driver found without insurance during Operation Drive Insured is likely to have their vehicle seized, get six points on their licence, a £300 fine and could face court prosecution. Police also plan to carry out checks for a range of additional road traffic offences.

Simon Hills, Inspector for roads policing operations at Thames Valley Police, said: “In my experience, drivers who willingly use vehicles without insurance are often committing secondary offences. These range in seriousness from minor road traffic offences, to driving whilst disqualified and other crimes such as drug dealing and burglary. The effective enforcement of uninsured vehicles allows us to deny criminals the use of the road and prevent further offending. Operation Drive Insured is a perfect opportunity for us to target our resources.”

If a member of the public suspects a person is driving without insurance, they can report it to their local police force or anonymously to CrimeStoppers.

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Llanelli’s Schaeffler plant in Bynea seems to have been decided says Labour

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THE FATE of Llanelli’s Schaeffler plant in Bynea seems to have been decided, Llanelli’s local Labour representatives concluded after meeting the management of the German manufacturing firm in an early morning meeting in the town on Friday (Nov 9).

Llanelli MP Nia Griffith, Assembly Member Lee Waters and Bynea Councillor Deryk Cundy met with Senior Vice President Dr Thomas Cebulla and Greig Littlefair, Schaeffler’s UK managing director, to discuss this week’s announcement that 220 jobs were under threat at the old INA Bearings plant.

“Very concerningly, in spite of our entreaties, it seems that their minds are made up,” Nia Griffith MP said.

Ms Griffith added: “They stressed to us that the demand for the tappets being made in Llanelli has fallen, and is expected to drop drastically as the product comes to the end of its life and as demand for diesel engines reduces, and the new turbo charged product has not enjoyed the take up that had been hoped for.”

Lee Waters AM said: “The managers told us that Schaeffler is a very big global organisation with 72 factories worldwide and that the Llanelli closure is part of a global consolidation. They said it was no reflection on Llanelli workforce but a reaction to the change in demand for the product made in Bynea”

Deryk Cundy, the Councillor for the Bynea ward of Llanelli where the plant is based, said: “We told them that we will do all we can to work with the Welsh Government and Carmarthenshire Council to offer help if that would make a difference, but we were not encouraged by their response. It seems that their minds are made up.”

The Schaeffler executives stressed that Brexit was a consideration but not the decisive factor in this decision, pointing out that “we are a global business and global businesses want open borders and open trade”. They said Schaeffler had brought forward plans to consolidate their sites because of the uncertainty of the Brexit process.

Llanelli’s MP and AM have both called for the UK Government to prioritise giving business certainty in the Brexit negotiations.

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