Tractor driver who left woman fearing she could be ‘decapitated’ spared jail

Martin Roch, 51, of Maiden Wells near Pembroke, was handed a 24 week suspended sentence for dangerous driving.

The case was heard at Swansea Crown Court
The case was heard at Swansea Crown Court (Tim Ireland/PA)

A man who dangerously drove a tractor through a South Wales village leaving a woman fearing she could be “decapitated” has been spared jail.

Martin Roch, 51, of Maiden Wells near Pembroke, pulled a trailer through the village, despite it being overloaded with a metal frame sticking out “a metre on each side”.

As he passed a driver travelling in the opposite direction he smashed the trailer’s load into the passing vehicle, sending glass over her and her passenger, leaving her fearing she could have been decapitated.

Handing him a 24-week prison sentence suspended for 12 months, Judge Paul Thomas KC said it should have been “obvious” that the trailer was a danger.

Speaking on behalf of the prosecution at Swansea Crown Court on Monday, Brian Simpson, said: “On the trailer was a metal shed frame which projected over the trailer by at least a metre on each side.”

He said Janice Wilson, 67, who was driving in the opposite direction, tried to pull over to avoid the vehicle.

But as it passed the frame hit the pillar between the windscreen and the driver’s door smashing the door window, covering her and her passenger in glass.

Roch waited for half an hour but left before the police arrived, deciding with the farmer who owned the tractor to remove the obstruction from the road.

He had been moving the frame between two farms, a distance of around three miles.

Mr Simpson read out a statement from Ms Wilson, which said: “After the incident this has made me far more aware when sharing the road with traffic.

“A couple of more inches longer and I feel I would have been decapitated by the metal beam as he didn’t slow down at all.”

Emily Bennett, speaking on behalf of the defence, said Roch had previously pleaded guilty to the dangerous driving offence at Swansea Crown Court on April 8.

Ms Bennett said Roch accepted the “error in his view that the trailer was not dangerously loaded on that day” and his leaving the scene was not an attempt to “hinder” investigations.

The defence added that driving was a key part of Roch’s income, primarily working as a tractor driver, and a ban would impact his partner and young child.

Sentencing Roch, Judge Thomas said: “It should have been completely obvious to you that driving that tractor and trailer would put other road users at risk.

“You drove that vehicle without any proper consideration for the risk it posed to other drivers let alone the inconvenience to other drivers.

“The car that you hit was written off, the occupants sustained slight injuries.”

While he acknowledged a driving ban would impact Roch’s ability to work, Judge Thomas still considered it necessary.

He imposed a 24-week prison sentence suspended for 12 months, as well as 100 hours of unpaid work and banned him from driving for 12 months.

Roch will be required to pass an extended driving test before he can regain his licence.