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Inquest Into M4 Horror Smash

A young South Wales couple were killed on their first date after downing wine and cocktails in a plush casino, an inquest heard.

Swansea hairdresser Sarah-Jayne Thomas, 28 was being taken home 45 miles from their boozy first date by Tim Grace, 31, before the smash at up to 102mph in the borrowed £60,000 car.

Tim 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 date Sarah-Jayne.

As the pair drove home, Tim raced the borrowed MW X5 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 powerful BMW veered wildly across three lanes and came to a stop as it hit a tree on the embankment at Bridgend, South Wales.

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

Fellow motorists spotted the car - and noted its excessive speed as it was driven by window cleaner Tim.

Michael Heath, who was driving on the M4 at the time said: “I’d only been on the motorway a few minutes when I saw the BMW X5 in my mirrors.

“After overtaking me, without any good reason, it swerved sharply to the left.

“The driver did not seem to react. The car then travelled up the embankment before hitting a tree with such a force that it bent over.”

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, was pronounced dead at the scene having suffered multiple injuries while Tim was airlifted to hospital.

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

An 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 licence. He held a provisional license only.

“He had no third-party insurance either. He was convicted in 2017 of driving without a licence and without insurance.”

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.”

The pair were drinking at a Miller and Carter restaurant in Cardiff Bay.

Witness Louie Baker said: “The male ordered a Chardonnay bottle and two glasses while the female ordered an Absolut and raspberry cocktail.

“Shortly after the male ordered another bottle of the same wine.

“I remember commenting to the manager saying he had ordered a second bottle but had not been here that long.”

Phillip Smith, a bartender at the Grosvenor casino where the pair went next, said: “I served them both alcoholic cocktails.

“Both female and male appeared drunk and I asked my manager whether I should serve them any more alcohol but they did not return to order any more drinks.”

Sarah-Jayne had sons Harley, nine, and Jason, six. Brunette hairdresser Sarah-Jayne was described by heartbroken friends as an "amazing girl" and "fantastic mother".

Recording his conclusion, coroner Graeme Hughes said: “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.”

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