'Beloved' grandfather killed by driver four times over drug drive limit

George Stevenson
George Stevenson -Credit:North Wales Police

A "beloved" great grandfather was killed by a driver four times over the drug drive limit. Dale Hilton's car collided with George Stevenson who waited hours for an ambulance.

A judge condemned Hilton for the "thoroughly avoidable" death but said it couldn't be known if the three-hour wait for an ambulance also played a part in the tragedy. Today Hilton was jailed for four years for causing death by careless driving while under the influence of a controlled drug.

The 42-year-old, of Heol Kenyon, Johnstown, Wrexham, was said to have struggled with the Covid-19 lockdown and turned to cocaine. He rang Mr Stevenson's wife and brought her to the scene, Mold Crown Court heard today.

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The incident happened when the defendant's red Peugeot C2 car collided with George Ian Stevenson as he was walking along the High Street in Johnstown at 7.30pm on March 2, 2022. His level of Benzolecgonine was four times the legal limit.

Mr Stevenson, a retired undertaker, lorry driver and mechanic, died at Wrexham Maelor Hospital that night. Today prosecutor John Philpotts read out a statement from Mr Stephenson's daughter Julie Davies.

She said he was a "beloved father, husband, grandfather and great grandfather. "His death has left a huge void in the lives of his family - something we will never be able to get over." She is particularly concerned for her 86-year-old mother who has lost her husband.

Ms Davies also said they were "shocked and surprised he (Hilton) continued to offend in a similar way after this fatal incident". The court heard he had been fined for drug driving and breaching a community order last year.

Dale Hilton, 42, of Heol Kenyon, Johnstown Wrexham, was jailed for four years for causing death without due care and attention while over a specified limit for a specified, controlled drug
Dale Hilton, 42, of Heol Kenyon, Johnstown Wrexham, was jailed for four years for causing death without due care and attention while over a specified limit for a specified, controlled drug -Credit:North Wales Police

Brendan O'Leary, defending, said: "This is an absolutely tragic case when no sentence of imprisonment will bring Mr Stevenson back."

He said his client had had a momentary lapse in concentration before the "side impact" with Mr Stevenson. After the collision he blocked the scene with his car, put his coat under Mr Stevenson's head and rung Mrs Stevenson.

He then brought her to the location. Mr O'Leary accepted this would be "scant consolation" to the family.

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He added that the defendant had had a challenging childhood leading to a diagnosis of "complex post traumatic stress disorder". He also has ADHD.

He said the father-of-three said he had taken to "self-medicating" with cocaine during the Covid-19 lockdown "to balance out his brain".

But the judge His Honour Niclas Parry told Hilton he had a "poor attitude towards the rules of the road and safety of others", with a history of motoring convictions. He had been four times over the legal limit for drugs on this occasion.

He said: "It's clear you had the victim in your sights for a long time. It's inexplicable that you did not avoid him.

"It's unpalatable to read your view that the death was is the fault of everybody apart from yourself." It had been a "thoroughly avoidable tragedy" and the fact Hilton continued drug driving was "alarming," added the judge.

But the steps he took after the incident make him "almost indistinguishable" from the man in court today. The judge also praised neighbours who brought out blankets and hot water bottles and two off-duty paramedics who waited with the victim for hours.

It showed the value of the NHS although the three-hour long wait for an ambulance was "wholly, wholly unacceptable," he added. Jailing HIlton he also disqualified him from driving for five years.

He must pass an extended test before being able to drive legally again.

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