Jury to retire in Pontblyddyn death crash driver case

Published date: 12 December 2013 |
Published by: Staff reporter
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A JURY will retire today to decide whether a young man is guilty of causing the death of a mother-to-be and her unborn baby daughter by dangerous driving.

Judge Philip Hughes will sum up the case to the jury at Mold Crown Court this morning.

The prosecution allege that BMW driver, 22-year-old Calvin Craig Connah, was driving too fast and “was determined” to get past a car just as a dual-carriageway was coming to an end.

Prosecuting barrister John Philpotts has told the jury that Connah braked heavily as he approached bends outside Pontblyddyn on the Wrexham to Mold Road at an excessive speed.

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 the 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.

Connah, of Ffordd Derw, Leeswood near Mold, has admitted causing death by driving without due care and attention.

But he denies causing death by driving the BMW 318 Ti dangerously on the A541 road at Pontblyddyn, on October 22 last year.

In evidence yesterday, Connah said that at the time he was a student at Glyndwr University in Wrexham and had been to the gym and then the college library and was not in a rush as he returned home.

He was driving the family BMW and was very familiar with it.

Answering questions from his barrister, Mark Le Brocq, Connah denied travelling at excessive speed and claimed he went no faster than 60 mph along the dual-carriageway towards Pontblyddyn.

He said that he braked in plenty of time and slowed down to 50mph before the bend but lost control of the vehicle.

Connah said he braked and tried to steer out of trouble when the car slid but he lost control and the car went into the opposite carriageway where the impact occurred.

He also denied he had overtaken a vehicle at the end of the dual-carriageway, claiming he had done so earlier.

Connah said he admitted causing death by careless driving on the basis of excessive speed in the wet conditions and braking too late.

“I just could not do anything,” he said.

Questioned about prosecution witnesses’ evidence, which suggested an excessive speed – one said he was doing 90 mph on the dual-carriageway and another said he overtook a car at the last minute doing an estimated 80mph – he said they were wrong.

Forensic collision investigator Colin Dobbins told the jury he estimated the car must have been travelling at about the maximum theoretical speed at which the bend could be taken in those wet conditions, which was said to be 85 mph.

The BMW came to rest 37 metres further down the road after the impact and the Ford Ka, which the prosecution said was being driven perfectly properly at 40mph, was pushed back through a wall into some trees.

Mr Philpotts, in his closing speech to the jury, said the prosecution evidence would compel the jury to conclude the defendant was driving fast and dangerously in the powerful BMW.

In his closing speech, Mr Le Brocq said his client, a quiet and timid young man, lost control through braking too late on a wet surface, accompanied by inappropriate steering, which was an error of judgment, a mistake, which amounted to careless driving.

Both barristers told the jury to consider the evidence objectively and to put emotion to one side in what was a desperately sad case where a young woman had lost her life, together with that of her unborn, first child.


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