Steel worker says he ‘will have to sell his house’ after crashing drunk on bridge

A steel mill supervisor says he will have to sell his house after crashing drunk on a railroad bridge.

Rhys Hopkins, who works at Tata Steel in Port Talbot, was driving his Mazda at 3am on February 9 when it hit the bridge in Lon Derw, Ynysawdre.

Shortly after the crash, WalesOnline reported the driver ‘pulled’ him from the scene before he was ‘found crying’ nearby with his keys in his pocket.

Read more court stories here

The 33-year-old, of Tymeinwr Avenue in Blaengarw, appeared at Cardiff Magistrates’ Court on Friday and admitted driving with 92mcg of alcohol per 100ml of breath. The legal limit is 35mcg.

Prosecutor Jack Stanley said: “Mr Hopkins came to the attention of the police due to calls from concerned members of the public who saw him crash into the bridge at 3am.

The mess of the car after the collision in Ynysawdre

“One of them described to the police a bearded man walking towards the Brynmenyn area. A police dog handler went looking for him.”

The dog handler found Hopkins standing outside a nearby pub with the Mazda keys in his pocket. He told police he had been driving drunk.

Hopkins, who has no previous convictions, had been drinking at The Roof pub in Bridgend before the accident, his lawyer Philip Thomas told the court.

Mr Thomas said: “He had parked his car in a nearby car park. He says he would normally have taken a taxi home, but his judgment being clouded by alcohol, he tried to drive his car back home and failed.

“We cannot ignore the aggravating elements of the alcohol level and the collision… He expressed remorse during his hearing with the police.”

Hopkins, whose car was written off, earns £2,500 a month and owns her house. He works 12-hour shifts at Tata Steel.

Rhys Hopkins
Rhys Hopkins leaves court

“He lives in Blaengarw,” Mr Thomas added. “There is no train station there. He will not be able to drive to work [once banned]. He tells me that because he has a good job, he will have to sell his property and buy a new one closer to his job.

“This madness has caused him a lot of hardship. He’s a very decent, hard-working man who is now in danger both financially and when it comes to his house.”

Presiding Judge Samantha Pascoe asked Hopkins to speak to a probation officer and after questioning the defendant, the probation officer told the court that Hopkins was in a “low period” at the time of the offense.

He continued: “That’s why he was drinking in the pub. He doesn’t know how much, but he admits he had whiskey and lager. He doesn’t know why he decided to get into the vehicle in He doesn’t remember getting in the car, which I think reflects his level of intoxication.

“He says he often thinks of drunk drivers: ‘What idiots.’ And he’s now in that category himself. It’s opened his eyes to his drinking.”

The probation officer said Hopkins recognized the need for action and planned to join Alcoholics Anonymous.

Mr. Thomas noted that his client did not share these insights with him about the alcohol problem. “Maybe the probation officer’s approach was better than mine, in that my client was able to open up about his drinking,” the attorney said.

Ms Pascoe replied: ‘I imagine it’s a lot easier to talk to probation. One on one they know what questions to ask and have expertise in that area.’

Get the latest court news, as well as unique insight into criminal proceedings from one of Wales’ most experienced court reporters, by subscribing to our Crime and Punishment newsletter. To subscribe, click here, enter your email address and check the Crime and Punishment box. You can also join our Facebook group here.

Delivering her sentence, she said, “It’s been a horrific ordeal for you, but you know yourself that you could face a completely different set of consequences if someone had been hurt.”

Ms Pascoe imposed a 23-month driving ban and a 12-month community order including 10 days of rehabilitative activity.

The ban will be reduced by a quarter if Hopkins takes a drink-driving awareness course. He must pay a £500 fine, £95 prosecution costs and £34 victim services surcharge.

Want the latest Welsh newsletters sent directly to you? Look no further.

Comments are closed.