The tragedy of the disastrous reservoir crash in Mid Wales is that so many lives have been ruined – and that it all might have been avoided had the culprit - a young man who, in the words of the judge, had a record as a “chancer” behind the wheel - had been kept off the road for his past misdemeanours.
Gordon Dyche, 24, had just finished a ban for driving while disqualified and without insurance when he clipped the people carrier and propelled it down a steep slope and into Llyn Clywedog. He was also under a suspended sentence for handling stolen goods.
Dyche, the father of a child, told the court that the moments after the collision felt like “the end of the world.”
For once, his judgment was correct. Four people who were on a pleasant day out died as a result of the accident for which he was to blame. For driver Denise Griffith, who lost her husband, mother, and two foster sons, the haunting memory of that day is like a life sentence, another victim of the failure of the justice system to protect the innocent.
Yet the justice system also failed to protect Dyche himself from his own irresponsibility. His sentence of four years for causing death by careless driving is like the end of the world for him.
Many drivers guilty of inattention and carelessness get away with it through luck. On that day, the dice did not roll in Dyche’s favour. Lady luck was not on his side, nor on the side of those he inadvertently killed, and as a result he too has seen his life torn apart.
Had Dyche received a tougher sentence first time round, all could have been spared an ocean of misery. Soft sentences do nobody any good – and that includes the tearaways who need time to re-evaluate their lives.