CRASH DRIVER FLED SCENE

Caernarfon Herald - - FRONT PAGE - Eryl Crump

APICK-UP driver was jailed for caus­ing a se­ri­ous head-on crash – then flee­ing the scene. Dad-of two James Leach left stricken mo­torist Ifan Price bleed­ing heav­ily, with bro­ken bones and a punc­tured lung, fol­low­ing the 5am high-speed crash on the A499 at Pontl­lyfni.

The court was told 29-year-old Leach of Oak Road, Chelford, near Mac­cles­field, Cheshire, al­ready had pre­vi­ous con­vic­tions for be­ing in­volved in road traf­fic ac­ci­dents and fail­ing to stop in 2009 and 2010.

Jail­ing Leach for 16 months, Judge Huw Rees said the in­ci­dent was a “very bad piece of driv­ing”.

He added fail­ing to stop was an ag­gra­vat­ing fea­ture of the case.

“I have con­sid­ered care­fully if the sen­tence could be sus­pended but, in my judge­ment, this is so se­ri­ous it is not pos­si­ble to pass any­thing other than an im­me­di­ate cus­to­dial sen­tence,” he said. Leach ad­mit­ted caus­ing se­ri­ous in­jury by dan­ger­ous driv­ing and fail­ing to stop af­ter an ac­ci­dent on Oc­to­ber 5.

Ryan Roth­well, pros­e­cut­ing, said Mr Price was driv­ing his Volk­swa­gen van to­wards Caernar­fon with no ve­hi­cles in front or be­hind him. He saw four cars ap­proach him and re­alised the last ve­hi­cle was over­tak­ing the ve­hi­cle in front.

“There was no time to take avoid­ing ac­tion and there was a high-speed im­pact. There was ex­ten­sive dam­age with de­bris strewn for some 70 me­tres,” he said.

“Other mo­torists stopped and gave im­me­di­ate first aid un­til the emer­gency ser­vices ar­rived and took him to hospi­tal.”

Mr Price spent four days in hospi­tal and was still off work, Caernar­fon Crown Court was told.

Leach was driv­ing an or­ange Ford Ranger pick-up truck and made off from the scene, Mr Roth­well added.

He was ar­rested at a car­a­van in Efail­newydd, near Pwll­heli, later that morn­ing. An­other man, an em­ployee of Leach’s join­ery firm, was also ar­rested but later re­leased with­out charge.

Leach told of­fi­cers he had fallen asleep in a field and, hav­ing wo­ken up some 90 min­utes later, saw no sign of the ac­ci­dent and caught a bus to Pwll­heli and a taxi to the car­a­van where he was stay­ing while ren­o­vat­ing a house in Aber­soch.

He said he had drunk just two pints the pre­vi­ous evening, claim­ing to have been the des­ig­nated driver on a visit to a Ban­gor night club.

Mr Roth­well said Mr Price did not know if he would fully re­cover from his in­juries and was un­able to re­turn to work.

Ben Rich, de­fend­ing, said he did not wish to min­imise the ef­fects of the in­ci­dent on Mr Price but ar­gued its ef­fects had not been as se­vere as they might have been. He said Leach had a poor driv­ing record from 10 years ago, but ar­gued he had put his crim­i­nal­ity be­hind him.

Mr Rich said Leach ran his own busi­ness and em­ployed three peo­ple whose liveli­hoods would be at risk if he was sent to prison. He added Leach was the fa­ther of two young children with an­other child ex­pected next spring.

“He ac­cepts the of­fences cross the cus­tody thresh­old and ac­cepts he can­not com­plain if he does go to cus­tody but I urge the court to take the mer­ci­ful route and sus­pend that sen­tence,” he said.

In ad­di­tion to the prison term, Leach was dis­qual­i­fied from driv­ing for four years and eight months and must take an ex­tended retest be­fore his li­cence is re­turned to him.

Sergeant Ray­mond Wil­liams, of the Roads Polic­ing Unit, said: “Leach had no con­sid­er­a­tion for oth­ers as he drove dan­ger­ously that morn­ing, which un­for­tu­nately re­sulted in a man be­ing se­ri­ously in­jured. It is only by sheer luck that this wasn’t a fa­tal road traf­fic col­li­sion.”

● Po­lice at the scene of the crash on the A499 at Pontl­lyfni ● James Leach

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