A NEW series of The Crash Detectives profiling Gwent Police’s accident investigation unit has launched on BBC with the harrowing story of a teenager run over and killed by a drug driver on a hillside road.
Rhys Dobson, 19, was walking in the early hours of the morning near Blaenavon in April 2019 when he was struck and killed by a car driven by 38-year-old Derek Richards.
Despite the impact, which left Rhys dead in the middle of the road, and significant damage to the black Citroen C3, Richards drove on without stopping or raising the alarm.
CCTV footage found by the police shows him parking outside the Co-op near his Morgan Street home in Blaenavon around 3.20am, moments before another driver finds the teenager’s body and calls 999.
Police traced the car within five hours and arrested Richards, who is shown in the episode turning up and asking them what they are doing, before claiming he thought he had hit a fly-tipped fridge or wardrobe.
A jury which heard he had taken amphetamines and cannabis found him guilty of causing death by careless driving in 2021 and a judge jailed him for three years, later reduced to two on appeal.
The episode opens with the distressing 999 call describing Rhys as “dead on the floor”.
Crash investigator Tony Parker is quickly on the scene on the Varteg Road, where he is filmed locating and analysing the evidence strewn across the road, including parts of the bumper and a Citroen badge.
Car identification numbers found on debris at the roadside quickly narrow the hunt down to a black Citroen, and police soon track down the vehicle in Blaenavon.
One officer asks: “Would he have known he hit someone?” and a colleague surveying the damage replies: “Bloody right he would have.”
When Richards arrives at the car, he tells them in footage caught on body cam: “I have got nothing to hide. I was coming across the top road, and I don’t know if it was a wardrobe or a freezer in the middle of the road and I literally hit it, and the front of the car went up. Am I in trouble?”
When told that someone has died and he is being arrested in connection with the crash he breaks down, but also denies using drugs before the collision.
Computer information from the car later showed that Richards was doing around the 60mph speed limit when the accident happened, but would have had enough time to see and avoid the pedestrian.
“All he had to do was move out 90cms, he has got the time, he has got the space but he did nothing and has left the scene,” says PC Parker.
“Only he knows why he did that. Anyone dressed in dark clothing in an unlit road can be difficult to anticipate and spot.
“(But) this driver, whatever he said he saw, saw it at some distance but still did not take any evasive action, and he had time to do so.”
Rhys’ devastated father says four years after his son’s death: “You just don’t think that your son is not going to come home after a night out.
“He was just trying to get home and he definitely didn’t deserve to die on the side of this mountain.
“The impact has been absolutely devastating. He (Richards) knew, I believe, what he had done.
“To drive off and to just leave the scene was a massively cowardly act that showed he had no regard for anyone other than himself.”
The Crash Detectives episode first aired last week (October 9) on BBC One Wales, and is now available on BBC iPlayer.