The family of a nurse killed by a drink driver in a crash have condemned a judge for handing out a short prison sentence.
Osian Hicks Thomas, from Criccieth, was jailed for six years for causing the death of Rebecca Edwards on the A499 at Penrhos, near Pwllheli, in December. He pleaded guilty to dangerous driving last month.
But Ms Edwards’ family said the sentence by Judge Huw Rees was ”an insult to Rebecca’s memory” which left them with a ‘‘strong sense of injustice”.
In a statement issued via police, her family said on Monday evening: ”In our eyes, no sentence will ever measure up to the crime committed which resulted in the death of our beautiful Rebecca.”
”However, such a short sentence for taking a life, and depriving a child of her mother, is an insult to Rebecca’s memory and has left us with a strong sense of injustice. This was not an accident but a despicable act of a selfish man who cruelly stole her future.”
”After serving his short time in prison, he will walk away a free man, while we as a family are sentenced to a lifetime of heartbreak, emptiness and loss without Rebecca. For us, our lives will never be the same.”
Thomas (20), from West End, was also jailed for a further year after he admitted a separate incident, when he was seen waiving around an imitation BB gun while sitting in a car in Pwllheli last March. The gun was not loaded or fired.
Caernarfon Crown Court heard he was heavily drunk after going out on a ‘Mad Friday’ pub crawl with colleagues after finishing work – he had also taken a line of cocaine.
After taking a taxi to Llanbedrog, Thomas decided to drive his Ford Focus work car to Pwllheli, ignoring warnings by a cab driver and a friend.
Ms Edwards was driving a Volkswagen Golf when her car was hit with force by a Ford Focus driven by Thomas. She died instantly from serious head injuries after the Golf hit a retaining wall – her car landed in a field at the bottom of an embankment.
Thomas fled the scene of the crash and failed to report the incident – he returned to Pwllheli and tried to seek help from a relative, who refused and alerted police.
Upon his arrest, he refused to take a breath test – but around two hours after he was taken into custody, he was found to have 57 mg of alcohol in 100ml of breath. The legal limit is 35 mg.
The defence said Thomas had written a letter to Ms Edwards’ family, saying he was ‘deeply sorry’ for what happened. He had no previous convictions and realised he was facing a ‘lengthy’ jail sentence, but admitted it ”paled into insignificance” when compared with the family’s loss.
On the firearms charge, the barrister said Thomas had been threatened and thought ‘very unwisely’ that possessing an imitation gun was the way to deal with it, although it wasn’t unloaded at the time.
Judge Rees said Thomas made a ”monumentally stupid decision” to drive to Pwllheli and had behaved non-chalantly when he was arrested by police later that evening, refusing to take a breath test or answer questions.
He added the death of Ms Edwards would be felt deeply by her family.
Thomas was also banned from driving for thirteen and a half years – he must also take an extended retest.
After sentencing, North Wales Police said Thomas had disregarded their warnings about the potential consequences of driving under the influence with ”catastrophic results”. The tragedy had occurred during the annual Christmas crackdown on drink and drug driving.
Sergeant Meurig Jones from the Roads Policing Unit said: ”Osian Hicks-Thomas showed no regards for anybody else that night and his reckless actions tore an innocent woman away from her family and friends, and the fact that he fled the scene after fatally injuring Rebecca is appalling.”
”Although he now has to face up to his actions, no sentence can compensate for the loss of life and the distress caused. I hope the sentence handed down by the court sends a stark warning to anyone who takes the risk by driving under the influence of drink and drugs.”
Ms Edwards’ family asked for privacy to cope with their loss.