A FORMER chairman of the North Wales Police Authority has been cleared of careless driving after two experts disagreed over the cause of the collision.
Long-serving Wrexham Council executive member Malcolm King, speaking after a hearing at Prestatyn Magistrates Court yesterday, said he was relieved by the decision but knew all along he had done nothing wrong.
He was charged after a collision which occurred in October 2012 as he was driving from a council meeting in Wrexham to his home in Llanelidan, near Ruthin.
Having travelled along country lanes he failed to stop at a T-junction with the A525 at Llysfasi and his Volvo collided with an Alfa Romeo heading towards Wrexham.
He described the impact as ‘like a bomb going off’ and the Alfa Romeo, being driven by Philip Lloyd-Jones, smashed through a fence into a nearby field. The councillor broke his leg and a couple of ribs in the collision.
He told PC Scott Duncan at the time he had travelled that route thousands of times and knew it would be ‘inviting suicide’ not to come to a complete halt at the junction, but that night his brakes simply did not work.
“I pressed the brake to the floor but nothing happened,” he said.
Cllr King said he was travelling at only about 25mph having just gone round a 90-degree bend in the approach to the junction.
He told the court he had spent £1,600 on new brakes and tyres about five weeks earlier after the brakes had failed in the Guildhall car park in Wrexham.
Police vehicle examiner Arwyn Roche said the Volvo’s ‘black box’ showed no severe braking had occurred before the collision.
But Mark Willis, a consultant automobile engineer who was an expert witness called by the defence, said ‘vapour lock’ caused by continual hard braking on the lanes and hills could have caused the failure, a theory disputed by Mr Roche. Mr Willis said: “It is certainly possible.”
He also told the court in-car computers could be unreliable after a collision.
Dismissing the case, magistrates’ chairman Jane Edwards said: “There are far too many inconsistencies and we do not find the prosecution case proved.”
After the hearing Cllr King said he was glad to have found an expert in Mr Willis who had listened to his explanation and had been able to explain the likely cause.