Broken-down bus falls off transporter and crushes car

A driver labelled a “disaster every time he gets behind the wheel” by his own barrister crashed twice in the space of just three weeks, a court has heard. The first incident saw a bus Christopher Phillips was transporting fall off a lorry and crush a parked car and the second saw him driving into a telegraph pole while he fumbled for a cigarette lighter. The 41-year-old has four previous convictions for drink-driving and a string of disqualifications on his record.

:Go here to read all the latest court stories from around Wales Swansea Crown Court heard the first incident took place on June 20 last year in Cymmer in the Afan Valley. Dean Pulling, prosecuting, said just before 7.30pm that evening police received reports of a crash in Sunnyside Terrace and when officers arrived they found a bus had fallen off a transporter lorry and hit two parked cars.

One of the cars – a Ford Fiesta – was subsequently written off. The court heard the bus had been too long for the Isuzu recovery truck being used to transport it and that the driver, Phillips, was not allowed to drive a vehicle of its weight. The defendant was spoken to at the scene and told police he had borrowed the recovery vehicle from a friend and that the bus had not been properly loaded.

He said he was looking for somewhere safe to stop to adjust it when it slid off the back. Three weeks later Phillips was involved in another crash – this time when he was at the wheel of his own Ford Transit recovery van. Mr Pulling said at around 3.20pm on the day in question the defendant’s vehicle was seen to veer off the road in Tonna in the Neath Valley and hit a telegraph pole, sending the pole crashing onto the road.

The defendant got out of the cab to examine the damage then got back into the vehicle and drove away. Again police were called and by chance one of the officers who responded to the incident reported having just driven past a vehicle like the one thought to be responsible for the crash abandoned on the side the A465 at Neath Abbey. An officer was sent to check the sighting and he found a Ford recovery van with a damaged front end and a smashed windscreen.

As the officer was examining the vehicle Phillips arrived on the scene in another vehicle with a can of fuel. The officer recognised him as being the same man he had dealt with in Cymmer three weeks previously.

Phillips crashed into a telegraph pole then drove away but was quickly tracked down after running out of fuel

The court heard 41-year-old Phillips told the officer he had been driving around a corner when he bent down to pick up a lighter and hit the telegraph pole. He said as no other vehicle had been involved he did not think he needed to stop.

Christopher Gwyn Phillips, of Goytre Road, Port Talbot, had previously pleaded guilty to dangerous driving, driving otherwise than in accordance with a licence, driving without insurance, driving without due care and attention, failing to stop after an accident and failing to report an accident when he appeared in the dock for sentencing. He has four previous convictions for drink-driving from 2001, 2003, 2008, and 2018 for which he received bans of 12 months, 36 months, 52 months, and 40 months respectively. In 2018 he was also given six penalty points for using a mobile phone at the wheel.

Check what crimes have been reported in your area: Craig Jones, for Phillips, said the defendant was a father-of-three who had run a vehicle salvage operation for 10 years before the Covid pandemic had hit trade “hard” leaving him struggling to keep the business afloat. He said it was “fair to describe him as disaster every time he gets behind the wheel of a motor vehicle” but said Phillips was remorseful for what had happened and very much hoped to keep his business going during the duration of his inevitable driving ban by using third parties to collect vehicles for him.

Judge Catherine Richards told Phillips he had driven the recovery truck with the bus on the back while it was in an “obviously dangerous state” and said his previous convictions for driving with excess alcohol were examples of him taking risks with the safety of other road users. Giving the defendant the required one-third discount for his guilty pleas the judge sentenced him to a total of 12 months in prison suspended for 12 months, banned him from driving for two years, and ordered him to complete 200 hours of unpaid work and to do a rehabilitation course. He must pass an extended test before he can get his licence back.

The judge warned Phillips that if he did not take road safety more seriously other people would end up getting harmed and he would end up in prison.

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