Swansea Crown Court heard that, whilst inebriated, Craig Roach forcefully broke through a police roadblock while officers were tending to a fatal car crash on a bustling dual carriageway.
When apprehended, Roach was uncooperative and had to be subdued with a Taser before feigning a seizure and subsequently issuing threats at the officers.
Notably, Roach was accompanied by a distressed former girlfriend in his vehicle, a violation of a restraining order barring him from contacting her. This order had been breached multiple times, including an instance where he vacationed with her at a Butlins resort. Roach’s legal representative asserted that the defendant has grappled with a prolonged history of substance and alcohol misuse, coupled with related mental health challenges.
His repeated periods of incarceration over the years have further complicated these issues.
On the evening of September 8 this year, during a serious road traffic collision on the A465 near Resolven in the Neath Valley, police were preoccupied with managing the situation, as outlined by Brian Simpson, the prosecutor at Swansea Crown Court.
As emergency teams were engaged in their efforts at the accident site, the northbound carriageway was temporarily shut down, leading to the formation of a substantial traffic backlog. It was during this period of congestion that Roach, operating a Vauxhall Insignia, found himself among those affected.
According to Mr. Simpson, the police initiated the process of dispersing the queued vehicles by guiding several groups of cars back down the northbound lane of the A465 towards Aberdulais, where they could safely exit the road.
However, when an officer approached Roach and inquired if he would join the group of other drivers for a briefing on the unfolding situation, he abruptly left the queue, executed a rapid U-turn, and accelerated against the flow of traffic.
Witnesses observed him maneuvering erratically between vehicles, and at one point, he came perilously close to colliding with a police officer positioned on the road. Concurrently, a policeman on an unmarked motorcycle received information about the unfolding events via his radio and, upon witnessing Roach’s actions, promptly turned around and initiated pursuit.
During the court proceedings, it was revealed that police officers had taken measures to block the entry slip road to the A465 in Aberdulais to prevent further vehicles from joining the queue. They also prepared to utilize a “stinger” tire-puncturing device in case the fleeing individual attempted to leave the bypass.
Roach, however, proceeded to enter the on-slip at high speed, resulting in the successful deployment of the stinger. As a consequence, his Vauxhall vehicle continued up the slip road, colliding with police cars before ultimately coming to a halt at the Aberdulais roundabout. In response, the officers activated their Tasers and extracted Roach from his vehicle.
The 42-year-old defendant informed the police that he had consumed alcohol and later feigned a seizure before uttering threats directed at the officers.
Subsequently, a passenger, identified as his former partner, exited Roach’s vehicle and identified herself to the police. The court was informed that she appeared to be in a highly distressed state.
During the incident, a police car with a value of £24,000, which the defendant collided with, was declared a total loss. Following his apprehension, Roach was uncooperative and declined to provide a sample for analysis, contending that the police should have conducted a roadside test earlier and resorting to offensive language when addressing the officers.
Craig Adrian Roach, residing at Pen-y-Bryn Court in Croespenmaen, Crumlin, Caerphilly County, had previously entered guilty pleas to charges of dangerous driving, driving while disqualified, driving without insurance, failing to provide a specimen, and violating a restraining order when he appeared before the court for sentencing. The plea regarding the breach of the restraining order was based on the premise that his former partner willingly accompanied him in the vehicle. The prosecutor noted that Roach’s ex-partner did not support the prosecution and had not provided a statement to the police, rendering the defendant’s basis unchallengeable.
The defendant has a criminal record that includes 25 previous convictions for 57 offenses, with prior convictions for dangerous driving and nine instances of driving while disqualified. At the time of the A465 incident, he was subject to a restraining order that prohibited contact with his ex, an order he had violated on six prior occasions. The court was informed that the restraining order had been issued in 2018 and subsequent breaches of the order had included instances where the two went on vacation together to Butlins in Skegness. His most recent breach occurred during the previous Christmas when he inundated his ex-partner with messages asserting that she would not escape the consequences of “moving on” and “ruining” his life.
Andrew Shanahan, representing Roach, contended that it was the defendant’s assertion that his ex-partner had initiated contact with him and that the two had embarked on a trip to Brecon before heading to Swansea. He characterized the couple’s relationship as “toxic.” Shanahan further argued that the incident in the A465 traffic queue represented a “moment of madness” on Roach’s part, emphasizing that Roach was unaware of his disqualification as a “totter,” meaning he had accumulated 12 penalty points on his license due to convictions in his absence. Additionally, Shanahan noted the defendant’s history of substance abuse, alcohol abuse, and associated mental health issues, further exacerbated by his frequent incarceration.
Judge Catherine Richards disagreed with the characterization of the relationship as “toxic,” asserting that one party had engaged in violent and abusive behavior while the other was the victim of such behavior. She noted the presence of an “imbalance of power.” The judge also highlighted that on the day in question, the defendant had consumed substances and driven recklessly over an extended period with a vulnerable woman in the passenger seat.
Roach, who received one-third discounts for his guilty pleas, was sentenced to a total of 20 months in prison. This sentence comprised 16 months for dangerous driving and four months for the breach of a restraining order, with these sentences to be served consecutively. He also received two months in prison for driving while disqualified and an additional two months for failing to provide a sample, with these sentences running concurrently with each other and concurrently with the 20 months. No separate penalty was imposed for driving without insurance. Roach will serve up to half of the 20-month sentence in prison before being released on license to complete the remainder in the community. Additionally, he was disqualified from driving for two years, with an extension of 10 months to account for his time in prison.
Following the sentencing, South Wales Police sergeant Richard Coulthard, the officer handling the case, stated: “Roach’s actions on that evening really do beggar belief. We know delays can be frustrating for other motorists, but the vast majority of the public understand and show compassion and patience, knowing that on many occasions, there is likely to be someone injured or worse.
“On this particular occasion a man had indeed lost his life, and yet Roach showed a complete disregard for that, and for himself, his passenger and other motorists. In doing so he put further lives and risks, and subsequently ended up adding to those delays experienced by other motorists.”