Grandad killed by uninsured Jaguar driver driving at 'grossly excessive speeds' who then lied to police

Picture of Gareth Evans
Former rugby referee Gareth Evans was killed by Stephen Fisher as he drove as 'grossly excessive' speeds in his Jaguar XF car -Credit:Family photograph / South Wales Police

An 84-year-old grandad died after a speeding driver crashed into the pensioner's car, a court heard. Just two seconds before the impact, Steven Fisher had been travelling at around 77mph and accelerating hard in his Jaguar before smashing into Gareth Evans' car causing catastrophic injuries.

Former rugby referee and Royal Welsh Fusiliers soldier Mr Evans was airlifted to hospital following the crash but could not be saved. Meanwhile Fisher was phoning his employers to ask them to lie on his behalf, Swansea Crown Court heard.

In an impact statement from Mr Evans' 87-year-old widow she said she and her husband had been looking forward to spending what time they still had together enjoying the "simple things" in life such as walking their dog, watching television, and seeing their son and grandson, reports WalesOnline.

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She also said there had been times when she feared she would not live to see Fisher admitting his guilt for what he had done.

Ian Wright, prosecuting, told the court, that the fatal collision happened on the morning of February 23, 2021, outside the CEM Day's garage on Swansea Road in Garngoch. He said Mr Evans was only out that day to give his wife's Honda Jazz car "a run" to charge the battery, and was pulling onto Swansea Road when Fisher's Jaguar XF slammed into the front offside of the vehicle sending it spinning off the road.

Emergency services rushed to the scene and keen Swansea City fan Mr Evans was flown to hospital by air ambulance where he was pronounced dead that afternoon having suffered multiple injuries.

The prosecutor said the defendant should not have been driving his uninsured Jaguar at the time of the crash - bosses at R-Tec garage where he worked had told him to go to Hendy to collect a customer's car and specifically instructed him to make the journey in another customer's car, an Audi. The court heard that after the crash Fisher rang his boss to discuss the incident, and at one stage asked if the garage would falsely say the Jaguar had been booked in for work and was covered by its insurance. The prosecutor said the boss rightly refused that request.

The court heard when Fisher was subsequently interviewed by police he told officers he had been travelling at 40mph - the speed limit for the relevant stretch of Swansea Road - when Mr Evans had pulled out in front of him, and he claimed he swerved to try to avoid him. However analysis of CCTV footage combined with data downloaded from the crashed Jaguar's restraints control module, the box of electronics that activate a vehicle's airbags, revealed the truth about Fisher's driving.

The court heard that five seconds before the impact the Jaguar was travelling at 106kph (66mph) and the accelerator input was at 100 per cent, and that the vehicle's speed continued to increase until the car was doing 121.71kph (75.6mph) just two seconds before impact with the accelerator still at maximum input. The data showed that one second before impact the brakes were being applied and the speed had been reduced to 72.7kph or 45mph. Mr Wright said a crash investigator had opined that had the Jaguar been travelling along the road within the speed limit the collision may never have happened.

In an impact statement read to court by a South Wales Police family liaison officer, Mr Evans' widow Maureen said she and her husband had been married for 58 years and were looking forward to spending what time they had together doing the "simple things" in life like walking their dog, watching TV, and seeing their son and grandson.

She said the loss of her husband had not just changed her life but "ruined it completely", and she said she had been anxious that she would not live to see Fisher admitting his guilt. She said if the defendant had pleaded guilty at an earlier stage it would have eased her mind and saved a lot of police resources.

The court heard that while the collision happened in February 2021 it was not until September 2023 that the defendant was charged via letter in a system known as postal requisition.

Judge Paul Thomas KC asked for an explanation for the delay and prosecution counsel Mr Wright said a "significant proportion" of the delay was explained by the length of time taken to access the data from the French company that manufactured the Jaguar's restraints control module, including an officer having to go to France to get a statement from the employee who downloaded the information. The judge called the delay "wholly unacceptable" and said it was "not fair on anyone".

Stephen Fisher, aged 43, of West Street, Gorseinon, had initially pleaded not guilty to causing death by dangerous driving but guilty to causing death by driving while uninsured, and a trial was due to take place in July this year. However, he subsequently changed his plea to the death by dangerous driving charge. He has a previous conviction for driving with excess alcohol from 2009 for which he was fined and banned from driving for 12 months.

Owen Williams, for Fisher, said he wanted to make it clear that nothing he said on behalf of his client was intended to diminish the "immeasurable loss" suffered by Mr Evans' family. He said character references submitted to the court showed the defendant to be honest, trustworthy and dependable, with a strong work ethic.

He said Fisher provided care for his mother and for his son, and he said the inevitable custodial sentence the defendant was facing would have a significant impact on his child. The barrister added that Fisher had expressed his "true regret and remorse" for his actions.

Judge Thomas said the stretch of road where the collision happened was one he personally knew very well. He said acting against the instructions of his employer Fisher had been at the wheel of his Jaguar "on that fateful day", and just two seconds before the impact had been travelling at almost twice the speed limit and accelerating harshly.

He said the defendant had been driving at "grossly excessive speeds" and had then lied to the police and tried to get his employer to lie on his behalf in order to save his skin.

The judge said it was clear from the references he had read that the defendant was highly thought of by people who knew him, and he said he was aware of the profound effect a custodial sentence would have on the defendant's son. With a 20 per cent discount for his guilty plea.

Fisher was sentenced to six years in prison. He will serve up to half that sentence in custody before being released on licence to serve the remainder in the community. The defendant was banned from driving for a total of six years, and must pass an extended test before he can get his licence back.

Judge Thomas offered his condolences to the family of Mr Evans for the tragedy they had experienced, and said he hoped with time things would become easier for them.

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