TAXI DRIVER ‘FELL ASLEEP AT THE WHEEL’ BE­FORE CRASH WITH CY­CLISTS

POP­U­LAR CHEF KILLED IN ROAD TRAGEDY AF­TER CAB­BIE HAD WORKED 13-HOUR SHIFT

Glamorgan Gazette - - Front Page - LIZ DAY liz.day@waleson­line.co.uk

A TAXI driver who had been work­ing for 13 hours “ploughed into” three cy­clists, killing one and in­jur­ing two when he fell asleep at the wheel.

Cardiff Crown Court heard Craig Gough should have had 15 sec­onds to see the cy­clists and re­act, but ev­i­dence showed he did not make any at­tempt to brake or steer away.

Judge Eleri Rees said: “No sen­tence passed by this court can re­flect the loss of life or lessen the grief of those who have lost a loved one in such a man­ner.”

The court heard the in­ci­dent oc­curred just af­ter 7am on Satur­day, Oc­to­ber 28 last year on the A48 near Pen­tre Meyrick.

Prose­cu­tor David Pugh said the de­fen­dant, a taxi driver based in Brid­gend, had com­pleted a long overnight shift of more than 13 hours dur­ing which he took at least 33 fares. Gough, who was self­em­ployed and work­ing for Dragon Taxis, was driv­ing a Skoda Oc­tavia at the time of the col­li­sion, which was found to have no me­chan­i­cal de­fects.

The court heard he was seen on CCTV stop­ping briefly to get food at a McDonald’s drive-thru just af­ter 6am be­fore driv­ing to Cardiff.

Pros­e­cu­tors said cy­clists Jack Berry, An­drew Hooker and Matthew Simmonds met at the Bush Inn pub in St Hi­lary, near Cow­bridge.

Mr Hooker, who was de­scribed as an “ex­tremely ex­pe­ri­enced” cy­clist, was the pub land­lord and Mr Berry was a chef.

Pros­e­cu­tors said they had been rid­ing to­gether for about a year and were plan­ing a ride to Og­more-by-Sea, all dressed in re­flec­tive cloth­ing and with ap­pro­pri­ate bike lights.

A col­li­sion re­port found the weather was dry and the vis­i­bil­ity was good mean­ing the driver should have had 367m, or 15 sec­onds, to see the cy­clists and re­spond.

The court heard the three friends were rid­ing in sin­gle file with Mr Hooker at the front, Mr Simmonds in the cen­tre, and Mr Berry at the back.

Mr Pugh said: “The de­fen­dant struck all three.”

In­ves­ti­ga­tors found Gough did not make any at­tempt to brake or steer away.

Mr Pugh added: “The de­fen­dant did not stop.”

The court heard Gough con­tin­ued to the brow of the hill be­fore do­ing a U-turn and re­turn­ing to the scene. In the mean­time a pass­ing van driver stopped, called 999, and ad­min­is­tered first aid un­til the am­bu­lance ar­rived.

Mr Berry, 26, was pro­nounced dead at the scene at 8am and his friends were taken to hos­pi­tal for treat­ment to their in­juries.

Pathol­o­gist Dr Meleri Mor­gan found the cause of death to be trau­matic head in­jury.

Mr Hooker was knocked un­con­scious and suf­fered in­juries in­clud­ing cuts and bruis­ing to his left shoul­der and hip along with ex­ten­sive bruis­ing and swelling.

Mr Simmonds suf­fered cuts to his right side, in­clud­ing “se­vere bruis­ing” to his fore­head. They were both re­leased from hos­pi­tal the same day.

Pros­e­cu­tors said Gough was “vis­i­bly up­set” when of­fi­cers told him for­mer sol­dier Mr Berry had died. He was ar­rested and replied to the cau­tion: “I am dev­as­tated.”

In his first po­lice in­ter­view he said he had taken at least a 30-minute break at McDonald’s be­fore driv­ing straight home af­ter his shift.

Af­ter fur­ther po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tion he ac­cepted that was not true and told of­fi­cers he took a short break at McDonald’s be­fore driv­ing to Cardiff, hop­ing to play poker at a casino to win some money for his up­com­ing hol­i­day.

He said he be­lieved he had “lost con­cen­tra­tion for a sec­ond”, then saw a cy­clist when he “re­fo­cused”, but had no time to do any­thing to avoid him. He de­nied fall­ing asleep.

Gough, 36, from Hil­ton Farm, Col­win­ston, ad­mit­ted caus­ing death by dan­ger­ous driv­ing .

James Evans, de­fend­ing, said he had no pre­vi­ous con­vic­tions or cau­tions and had a full, clean driv­ing li­cence at the time.

Mr Evans said: “This is ob­vi­ously a tragic case. Noth­ing I say is de­signed to de­tract from that at all.”

He added: “I do ask the court to ac­cept that his re­morse is ab­so­lutely gen­uine.”

In her sen­tenc­ing re­marks Judge Rees said: “These were ex­pe­ri­enced and well-equipped, care­ful cy­clists.”

She added: “The ob­vi­ous con­clu­sion from all the ev­i­dence is that you did in­deed fall asleep.”

Gough was jailed for three years and dis­qual­i­fied from driv­ing for five and a half years. He must take an ex­tended re-test.

Craig Gough out­side Cardiff Crown Court

Jack Berry

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