Mid Wales

Gordon Dyche denies overtake 'reckless' in family death trial

A garage attendant accused of causing a crash which killed four members of the same family has denied he took a reckless gamble.

Gordon Dyche, 24, from Powys, told Caernarfon Crown Court that he was driving safely in the seconds before the incident happened in April 2011.

But witnesses say he overtook a car, clipped it and send it careering into Llyn Clywedog near Llanidloes in Powys.

Mr Dyche denies causing the deaths by dangerous driving or careless driving.

The court has heard how Mr Dyche, from Llanbrynmair, near Machynlleth, was driving to work when he went to over take two cars.

Image caption Police sealed off the scene following the incident in April 2011

Denise Griffith, 56, from Pontypridd, has told the trial how she and her family were returning from a day out when she went to pull into a lay-by near Llyn Clywedog.

It was at that moment, she has said, that she felt the Peugeot 807 she was driving being shunted from behind.

She told the court that the next thing she knew, the car turned over and plunged into the nearby reservoir.

Her husband Emyr Griffith, 66, her mother Phyllis Hooper, 84, and her two foster sons Peter Briscome and Liam Govier, both 14, died in the incident.

Mrs Griffiths has recalled how she managed to release her seatbelt and swim to the shore along with the family's pet dog.

Mr Dyche, a married father, told the court he had left home for work in a Ford Mondeo shortly after 14:00 BST on the afternoon of the crash.

He was driving eight miles to Llanidloes to start work at 14:30 BST.

He told his lawyer Geraint Jones that he came up behind two cars - a VW Passat car and the people carrier, being driven by Mrs Griffith, ahead of it.

Image caption Denise Griffith survived but lost her mother, husband and two foster sons

They were travelling at about 40mph and he followed them for about a mile.

He said he began to overtake the VW but saw the Peugeot 807 people carrier began to turn right across his path towards a lay-by and he struck the vehicle.

Mr Dyche said: "It felt like the end of the world. I felt helpless. There was nothing I could do."

Prosecutor Simon Mills suggested the overtaking manoeuvre was "needless" but Mr Dyche disputed the suggestion he had been "cutting it a bit fine" to get to work.

He claimed there was good visibility that day.

"You could see far enough ahead. It was safe to overtake," he added.

"If a car didn't pull across in front of me the overtaking manoeuvre would have been performed perfectly safe."

Asked why he had said at the scene he was late for work and rushing, Mr Dyche claimed he had panicked.

Mr Mills suggested he had tried to "weasel" his way out of blame, but Mr Dyche insisted: "I'm an honest man."

Image caption Emergency rescue workers at the reservoir in April 2011

Earlier on Wednesday, the jury heard how Mr Mills had told a paramedic at the scene of the crash: "I shouldn't have done it. I was late for work. It's my fault."

The jury also heard that he told a police officer: "It's my fault."

Shortly after, while at a police station, Mr Dyche retracted what he had said.

"I did say that," he told officers. "I was very shocked, okay, and, I don't know. It's difficult."

Mrs Griffith's driving had been described by another motorist as "exemplary."

She has said in court that her life has been ruined.

The trial continues.

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