An unlicensed driver was filmed smoking cannabis and drinking cider at the wheel of a death trap car before killing a teenage passenger in a horror head-on crash.
Ricky Davies, 30, was jailed for eight years after Cardiff Crown Court heard he had indulged in a weekend orgy of drugs and booze before his ‘appalling’ intoxicated driving killed 18-year-old friend Dafydd Hughes on a Shirenewton road last May.
Snapchat footage taken in the car before the Sunday lunchtime collision with another vehicle captured Davies “cruising around” while drug taking and drinking.
At one point a passenger shouts “we ain’t coming home”, while a passenger is seen hanging his legs out of the window.
Davies said he was taking back roads because he was unlicensed, but drove aggressively at speed on bendy roads, dangerously overtaking cars, and was told to slow down by a passenger because he was “all over the road swaying from side to side”.
He lost control of the unroadworthy Ford Focus around 1.30pm on the B4235 Usk Road when speeding around a bend at 55mph, and veered across into an oncoming Peugeot 5008 SUV with fatal consequences for his teenage back seat passenger, who wasn’t wearing a seat belt and suffered catastrophic head injuries.
SUV driver Graham Leader, who was knocked out and sustained serious fractures to his back, told police he and his wife had “nowhere to go and had to brace for the collision”.
A blood test later showed that Davies was nearly twice the legal drink drive limit.
The car, which he had bought 10 days earlier, also had no tread on the offside front tyre and would have failed an MOT, the court was told.
Davies of Nany y Melyn, Rhymney, Caerphilly, admitted six charges – causing death by dangerous driving, causing serious injury by dangerous driving, dangerous driving, driving under the influence of alcohol, driving without insurance and driving without a licence.
Snapchat footage captured Davies drinking at a Merthyr club on Saturday, May 7, 2022, before moving on to a house party in Pontlottyn where he took cocaine before leaving at 5am.
He and others later bought cider in Tredegar and smoked cannabis on Abertysswg Mountain before buying more alcohol and heading to a dog show in Usk.
Prosecutor Matthew Cobbe said Davies’ driving was ‘horrendous’. He took off the wing mirror of another car in a dangerous overtaking manoueuvre, and after leaving the show had just recklessly overtaken another car when he lost control, careering into the SUV.
“Nobody was wearing a seat belt and the defendant’s driving was worse than before, driving too quickly and going round bends far too quickly,” he said.
“Dylan Powell (a passenger) asked him to slow down and the defendant was involved in three episodes of dangerous overtaking.”
Marian Lewis, defending, said Davies was a friend of the deceased which “intensified his feelings of guilt and grief”.
Jailing Davies for eight years and banning hom from driving for 12 years, Judge Tracey Lloyd Clarke said: “Your actions caused immeasurable pain and life long suffering to many people, most severely his family....
“No sentence will adequately reflect the harm you have done and the grief you have caused.
“Dafydd Hughes was 18-years-old, his life was incalculable. You have caused immense distress to a close knit family. Their grief will last forever.
“Your driving was truly appalling. Those that saw your driving knew a serious accident was inevitable and it was, causing the death of a young person.”
PC Spencer Clease, officer in the case, condemned the “reckless and selfish actions” that led to the death of Dafydd Hughes.
He added: “There are no excuses for deciding to drive after consuming alcohol or drugs nor driving dangerously. It can have a devastating impact on others as shown in this case.”