Bronington crash driver admits 'worst mistake of my life'

Reporter:

Court Reporter

A CATTLE truck containing 18 animals ended up on its side after being struck by an oncoming Astra estate, a court heard.

Flintshire Magistrates Court at Mold was told how the driver of the estate vehicle and his passenger were both seriously hurt in the crash.

The impact of the crash knocked the front axle off the lorry, causing it to go over onto its side.

The van driver, car mechanic Joseph Saul Challenor, 22, admitted a charge of careless driving in the Vauxhall Astra estate on the A495 at Bronington, near Wrexham and Whitchurch.

The defendant, who came into court on crutches and described what he had done as “the worst mistake of my life”, was banned from driving for nine months.

As a new driver he would have to retake his driving test.

He was also fined £120 with £85 costs and a £30 surcharge.

Referring to Challenor, magistrates said it appeared to have been a case of somebody “driving completely madly”.

They said it was a shocking piece of driving in which injuries had been caused.

Prosecutor Brian Robinson told the court that the serious injury collision happened at about 5.30pm on June 14.

The defendant, a mechanic at the Victoria Garage in Whitchurch, left work in the Astra estate.

He picked up a friend and was seen to accelerate along the A495 through a series of bends.

The vehicle was seen to over take and at one stage another driver told how the defendant appeared to be “fighting with the steering wheel”.

David Hancock was driving a rigid HGV carrying 18 cattle and told how he approached a right hand bend and saw the Astra approaching “out of control.”

He estimated the speed of the approaching vehicle at about 70 mph and was fishtailing from side to side.

The truck driver had no opportunity to take evasive action, the estate vehicle hit the off side and the force of the impact knocked the front axle off the lorry. It then rolled onto its side.

The estate vehicle had “massive front end damage”, said Mr Robinson.

The passenger who was injured was able to get out of the vehicle but the defendant was trapped and had to be released by emergency services.

He suffered serious injuries and was taken to hospital in Stoke.

The passenger had suffered a bowel injury.

All 18 cattle were released without serious injury.

Interviewed, Challenor, of Queensway, Whitchurch, said he approached a left hand bend and hit the verge or a pot hole.

The back end of the vehicle went out, he saw the lorry approach and the collision occurred.

He had only passed his driving test in March of this year.

“I know I was driving like a ****,” he told officers.

Challenor said he was not sure of his speed but said it was “more than it should have been.”

Mr Robinson showed photographs of what he called “the scene of devastation” and the damaged vehicles.

He said it was an extremely serious collision caused through the defendant’s manner of driving, which was verging on being dangerous driving.

Challenor represented himself and said he accepted the prosecution case and deeply regretted what he had done.

“This is the worst mistake of my life, to be honest,” he said.

The defendant said there was no reason for the manner of his driving.

It occurred after an overtaking manoeuvre. He had been on statutory sick pay but had now applied for benefits.

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