Olwen Collier: Woman fatally injured while organising daughter's 'surprise' birthday party

Two pub landlords have been sentenced after a woman died following a fall into the cellar.

Olwen Collier, 69, had visited the Stag and Pheasant Inn in Carmel, Carmarthenshire on 12 January 2023 to help organise a "surprise" birthday party for her daughter.

She opened the door for the cellar, which she believed led to a function suite.

Philip Hawkins, 49, and Tracy Hawkins, 53, both from the Bridgend area, had been the tenant landlords of the pub for around four months before the incident.

Prosecuting barrister Mr Reynolds told the court there had been "ambiguous and inadequate signage on the door" leading to the cellar.

Swansea Crown Court heard Mr Hawkins told Mrs Collier's party upon arrival to "Go around the corner, bear right".

Mrs Hawkins was in bed at the time due to illness.

Mrs Collier's grandson, Emyr Raymond, said in his victim impact statement that immediately after his grandmother's fall he asked Mr Hawkins "Why was the door opened?"

The landlord said in response he had been "changing the barrels".

'Absolute tragedy'

Alison Raymond said she was a "regular" at the pub but her mother, Mrs Collier, "never visited".

Mrs Collier suffered "fractures to her skull" and "severe swelling to her brain".

She was taken to hospital where she was placed in an induced coma.

Mrs Collier never recovered from her injuries and she died on 16 January 2023.

In mitigation, Mr Ibrahim said the court should consider both defendants to be of "good character".

"What happened on that day was a tragedy, absolute tragedy," he said.

"They're broken people and they're completely remorseful."

'Utterly avoidable'

Judge Thomas said it was an "utterly tragic and utterly avoidable death".

"The word tragic is often overused even in these courts," he said when passing sentence.

"This case, however, fully merits that description. What was meant to be a joyous family occasion on that day turned into the saddest of events."

Judge Thomas added that a "healthy, adored lady, Mrs Collier, lost her life".

"That happened because you two [Mr and Mrs Hawkins] did not take sufficient, even the most basic care, in the safety of your customers."

The judge said it was "a fatal accident waiting to happen".

"Your responsibility was to ensure that no member of the public could enter that room."

The judge accepted the defendants were "inexperienced" tenants.

In sentencing, he took into account their guilty pleas at a previous hearing in the magistrates' court.

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Both defendants were handed suspended sentences of 18 weeks' imprisonment, suspended for 12 months.

Mr Hawkins was also ordered to carry out 150 hours of unpaid work.