Iestyn Jones, 54, from Tredegar, was convicted of causing death by dangerous driving at Newport Crown Court today, 17 December, after allegedly “fiddling with” his car radio
Image: WALES NEWS SERVICE)
A college lecturer who “fiddled with his radio” while driving has been found guilty of killing a grandmother and seriously injuring her husband in a crash in south Wales.
Iestyn Jones, 54, from Tredegar, was convicted of causing death by dangerous driving at Newport Crown Court today, 17 December.
Shirley Culleton, 65, died after the head-on collision on the A4046 Cwm road, near Ebbw Vale, on July 6 last year.
Mrs Culleton and her husband Michael had been driving along the bypass in their red Suzuki Swift at around 1.20pm that Saturday after a shopping trip when Jones drifted into their lane and crashed into them in his Hyundai IX35.
Jones, an electronics teacher and sheep farmer, was accused of “fiddling with his radio” which caused him to veer into oncoming traffic.
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He denied the charges against him and claimed, during a five-day trial, he could not remember what had happened.
The court heard Jones first hit another driver in a Ford Fiesta, Stephen Williams, who escaped with minor injuries, before ploughing into the couple.
He then told a number of witnesses at the scene, including a police officer and an army medic who had rushed to the aid of the injured drivers, that he had been “messing around” with his radio at the time of the incident.
“I only took my eye off the road for a second,” he told another.
Later, he told investigators he could not recall talking to the witnesses but admitted he must have, adding: “I don’t think I realised what I was saying, if I did say it.”
He admitted tuning his car radio at some point during his journey home but he insisted it was on a road before the bypass and that it did not cause the crash.
Matthew Roberts, defending, said his client had suffered a severe obstructive sleep apnoea episode on the day of the crash.
Jones had been diagnosed with a mild form of the condition in 2013, but said he was never told he had to inform the DVLA.
In cross-examination he told the jury: “It’s all a blur. I don’t remember nothing about it – there’s nothing there.
“I’m a really good driver. If I thought I had done this I would put my hands up. That’s why I’m here.”
Mrs Culleton suffered fatal injuries and died a day after the incident in the University Hospital of Wales.
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Her husband was taken to the nearby Nevill Hall Hospital where he remained for seven weeks.
Prosecutor Lawrence Jones said: “The defendant is no longer willing to admit that he was distracted by retuning his radio.
“This was no tragic unavoidable accident, this was a fatal episode of dangerous driving.”
Jones was also found guilty of causing serious injury by dangerous driving.
Judge Richard Williams remanded him in custody until his sentencing hearing on January 19, saying he should expect a “lengthy prison sentence”.
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.