A father of four from Denbigh who was twice the drink drive limit when his van careered out of control and struck a couple as they walked hand in hand – killing one of them – has been jailed for six years.
Pedestrian Ryan Draper, 27, from Deeside was killed and his partner Kim Martin, also 27, from Rhyl, suffered critical life-changing injuries in the impact.
Both were hurled into a field and initially the van driver Emyr David Jones said at the scene that he had hit a tree, his brother was coming to recover his vehicle and that an ambulance was not needed.
It was only when other drivers stopped to assist that Mr Draper was found unresponsive in the field and he was declared dead at the scene.
A badly injured Miss Draper was found screaming nearby and she was rushed to hospital with pelvic, leg, wrist and other injuries.
Judge Niclas Parry, sitting at Mold Crown Court on Thursday, imposed a six year sentence for causing Mr Draper’s death by dangerous driving and a concurrent three year sentence for causing Miss Martin serious injuries by dangerous driving.
Jones, 43, of Ruthin Road in Denbigh, was disqualified from driving for nine years. He admitted both charges.
At the scene Jones told police that he had swerved to avoid a fox.
Tests showed that he had not braked but had gone onto the wrong side of the road and struck the couple walking in the dark, but waving a porch and wearing light clothing, on the B5122 road near the A55 in Caerwys, Flintshire on July 30 last year, explained prosecuting barrister Matthew Curtis.
Judge Parry said that once again the court found itself having to deal with an incident on the roads of North Wakes which involved the wasteful death of a totally innocent person, and serious injuries caused to his equally innocent partner.
It had been caused by nothing other than Jones’ “utterly selfish and thoughtless” decision to drive although he had been drinking heavily all afternoon.
He lost control on a dry, clear night and he did not see two pedestrians carrying a torch and wearing bright clothing.
They had been seen by other drivers but without realising it, Jones drifted onto the wrong side of the road.
The vehicle left the road without braking or taking any evasive action and his victims were projected into an adjoining field.
Jones was drunk and his response at the scene did him no credit, the judge said.
A loved, precious son and adored partner had been killed and his partner critically injured. She had been left in constant pain and walked with a limp.
“She could easily have been killed,” the judge said, but her injuries had been life-changing.
Jones only had one previous convictions which was 14 years ago – but that was drink driving which involved a collision.
Judge Parry said that the public and the families involved would understand that the sentences were not intended in any way to reflect the value of a life, but to reflect the defendant’s culpability within the limitations of maximum sentences and sentencing guidelines.
Mr Curtis said that it was 12.45 a.m. that the tragedy struck as the couple were walking close to the A55 at Junction 31.
Jones had left a McDonald’s drive thru and other drivers had seen the couple walking and waving a torch on a mobile phone to alert them.
The defendant had not swerved or taking any avoiding action but drifted to the wrong side of the road on a bend, struck the couple, and the van hit a small tree and overturned into a field.
Mr Draper had died quickly at the scene from multiple injuries and Miss Martin was taken to Glan Clwyd Hospital and then transferred to Stoke where she underwent surgery.
The defendant later in hospital provided a blood alcohol reading of 173 miligrames, compared to the legal limit of 80.
Jones later provided police with a prepared statement in which he denied dangerous or even careless driving and described it as “a tragic accident”.
He suggested one of the pedestrians stumbled in front of him and that he could not avoid a collision.
Brian Treadwell, defending, said that whatever the defendant had said at the time, he accepted full responsibility, did not apportion blame, expressed genuine remorse and had said himself that he needed to go to prison to be punished for what he had done.
“He indicated himself that he needs to receive a custodial sentence. He acknowledges that needs to happen which is a credit to attitude,” said Mr Treadwell.
There was little mitigation but on a road with no pavement he became disorientated, lost control and collided with the pedestrians “because his ability to drive was impaired by the alcohol he had consumed”.
He said: “That is the primary reason for losing control and causing the accident. He makes no excuses.”
Mr Treadwell said his client tendered genuine apologies to all people affected by his actions and said that was a sincere apology.
See full story in the Free Press