Pontblyddyn death crash driver 'lost control of his car at speed'

Published date: 11 December 2013 |
Published by: Staff reporter
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A MOTHER-to-be was killed and her unborn baby died when a young man lost control of a BMW at speed and careered across the road into her path.

The prosecution at Mold Crown Court claimed yesterday the driver of the BMW, Calvin Craig Connah, now 22, was driving too fast.

He “was determined” to get past a car just as a dual-carriageway was coming to an end and then braked heavily as he approached bends outside Pontblyddyn on the Wrexham to Mold Road, it was claimed.

The silver BMW was seen to swerve from side to side before it crossed into the on-coming carriageway and crashed virtually head-on into an on-coming Ford Ka being driven by Christina Barchetti, 35.

Miss Barchetti, a hospital worker, was trapped in the wreckage of her vehicle and was later declared dead at Wrexham Maelor Hospital.

Her baby Bella was stillborn, a jury at Mold Crown Court was told.

Connah, of Ffordd Derw, Leeswood, near Mold, has admitted causing death by driving without due care and attention but denies causing death by driving dangerously on the A541 at Pontblyddyn, on October 22 last year.

John Philpotts, prosecuting, told the jury it had been an exciting time for Miss Barchetti because she and partner Graham Clarke were expecting their first child in November.

“But that happy day never came because at 8.45pm that night she was pronounced dead at Wrexham Maelor Hospital,” he said.

“She was just 35 and she had been involved in a road traffic collision.”

It was, he said, a tragic case, but the jury would have to consider the case dispassionately.

Mr Philpotts said witness Darren Nesbitt had just left a petrol filling station at Pontblyddyn and was driving his Transit van towards Wrexham.

The road was wet and slippery and he was driving at 40mph, the same speed as Miss Barchetti’s Ford Ka which was ahead of him.

He lost sight of her car on a slight bend before the dual-carriageway and then he was confronted on his own side of the road by Connah’s BMW car.

“There was a car coming towards him in his lane,” Mr Philpotts explained.

It had no lights on because they had just been damaged in the collision with the Ford Ka.

Mr Nesbitt braked to avoid a collision, got out, and asked Connah, who got out of the BMW, if he was okay.

Connah replied that he was.

Mr Nesbitt then asked him: “What the hell happened?”

Connah was said to have replied that he had “just lost it” on the bends.

Teresa Revel, a staff nurse at the Maelor Hospital, had been travelling from Wrexham and as she joined the dual-carriageway just after Caergwrle overtook a slower vehicle ahead. But as she did so she saw a vehicle travelling much faster than she was approaching from behind. As she accelerated to get back into the nearside lane, the car, a silver BMW, went past “well in excess of the 70 mph speed limit”.

She was shocked at the speed and manner of his driving and had not had time to fully re-enter the inside lane when he passed her.

At the other end of the dual-carriageway she came across a Honda 4x4 with its hazard lights on and realised there had been an accident ahead of it.

As a nurse she immediately got out to help but unfortunately there was little she could do apart from ensure the ambulance was summoned to the correct spot and reassure Miss Barchetti who was trapped in her car.

Georgina Rogers, the driver of the Honda 4x4, had been approaching the end of the dual-carriageway and realised there was a silver BMW approaching from behind at speed which then overtook her car.

The BMW then braked heavily and immediately began to swerve from side to side.

“It became obvious to her that the driver had lost control of that car,” Mr Philpotts said.

Miss Barchetti was released from the wreckage of her car and was taken to hospital where every effort was made to save her and her unborn daughter Bella.

But Miss Barchetti had suffered abdominal trauma which caused her pregnant uterus to rupture. She died of shock and haemorrhage and her baby was stillborn as a result of blunt trauma and a lack of oxygen.

Both vehicles were examined but no defects were found that may have caused or contributed to the collision.

The crash was investigated by forensic accident investigator Colin Dobbins who said Mr Philpotts, came to the conclusion the accident had been avoidable.

The road was not defective and the bend could have been negotiated at a speed significantly higher than the maximum speed limit.

It was his view that Connah lost control when braking while negotiating the bend at the end of the dual-carriageway.

“The prosecution say he was driving at the speed that he did to pass the car in front of him before he ran out of dual-carriageway.

“It was a road he knew well but in the prevailing conditions he drove dangerously,” said Mr Philpotts.

In interview Connah denied he had exceeded 60mph along the entire length of the dual-carriageway and blamed the weather and the road conditions for what had happened.

He admitted an error of judgment in braking as he did.

But Mr Philpotts said it was the prosecution case that the reason he braked as late as he did was that he was determined to pass the car in front before the dual-carriageway ended. He had driven at “a dangerously excessive speed” on a road he knew had been affected by rain, he said.

Mark Le Brocq, defending, suggested the BMW had not exceeded 60 mph and disputed claims it had been braking hard before the collision occurred.


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