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Couple killed in M4 crash after drinking alcohol, inquest hears

Credit: Family photo

A young couple were killed on their first date in a crash on the M4 in a BMW after drinking alcohol, an inquest heard today.

Sarah-Jayne Thomas, 28 was being taken home 45 miles from their date by Timothy Grace, 31, before the crash.

The collision happened happened on the westbound carriageway between junction 37 for Porthcawl and junction 38 for Margam near Port Talbot in June this year.

The car was travelling up to 102mph and was a borrowed vehicle.

28-year-old Sarah-Jayne Thomas was killed at the scene. Credit: Family photo

The inquest heard that Timothy Grace was seen by staff at a restaurant ordering two bottles of Chardonnay wine with lunch before drinking cocktails at the Grosvenor Casino in Cardiff Bay with Sarah-Jayne.

As the pair drove home, Timothy drove BMW along the fast lane of the M4 motorway.

Police investigators estimated their speed to be in the region of 88-102 miles per hour.

The car veered across three lanes and hit a tree on the embankment at Bridgend.

The carriageway was closed for seven hours while emergency crews tried to get the couple out of the car and clear the wreckage.

Timothy Grace died from his injuries at the University Hospital of Wales. Credit: Family photo

PC Carlo Vaquerizo was the first at the scene and described the damage as “catastrophic”.

He added: “It was one of the worst incidents I’ve ever seen.”

Mother-of-two Sarah-Jayne, from Swansea, was pronounced dead at the scene having suffered multiple injuries while Timothy was airlifted to hospital.

Doctors at the University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff described his injuries as “unsurvivable”. He died early the next morning.

He also had two young children.

The accident happened on the westbound carriageway between junction 37 for Porthcawl and junction 38 for Margam near Port Talbot. Credit: ITV News

The inquest into the two deaths at Pontypridd coroners court heard that the conditions were perfect, there were no defects on the road and the car was not at fault.

PC Alan Efstathiou of the serious collision investigation team revealed that father-of-two Tim shouldn’t have been driving at all.

He said: “Tim did not hold a full license. He held a provisional license only."

A toxicology report carried out in post mortem found that Tim was double the drink drive limit.

Toxicologist Dr Madden said: “Overall it is likely that Tim was under the influence of alcohol while driving.”

Recording his conclusion, coroner Graeme Hughes said "there is no direct evidence as to why Tim’s vehicle manoeuvred in the way that it did at the time".

It seems to me that there is no direct evidence as to why Tim’s vehicle manoeuvred in the way that it did at the time.

I am satisfied here that the consequences here leading to Sarah-Jayne’s death were as a result of a road traffic collision.

But that road traffic collision was contributed to by the the alcohol drunk by Tim.

Tim has lost control of the vehicle and collided with a tree. He was taken to University Hospital Wales but did not regain conscious.

I conclude that Tim died as a result of a road traffic collision contributed to by alcohol.

– Coroner Graeme Hughes