A COMPANY depot manager has this evening been jailed for three-and-a-half years after he was convicted of causing the death of a work colleague by dangerous driving.

The prosecution said that Rhys Davies and the deceased, teenager Matthew Bennett, were racing, a claim which the defendant denied.

But after a retirement of three hours and 40 minutes, the jury at Mold Crown Court found Davies guilty by an 11 to one majority.

Judge Niclas Parry jailed him for three-and-a-half years and disqualified him from driving for 44 months – which effectively means a two year driving ban on his release. He must take an extended driving test.

Both men finished their shifts at the Colomer Munmany Europe Ltd factory in Carno and were making their way back home along the A470.

Prosecutor Sion ap Mihangel alleged that the two men were side by side as they went over the brown of a hill and were racing when Mr Bennett lost control. He hit two on-coming vehicles and crashed into a field.

He was airlifted to hospital but died of his injuries.

In evidence Davies said that his colleague overtook him and was back on the correct side of the road before the crash.

Davies, 28, of Parc Hafod, Tregynon, near Newtown, Powys, denied causing the death of Matthew Bennett by driving dangerously on the A470 at Caersws on October 8, 2016 (correct) but was convicted at the end of a four day trial.

Judge Parry said that day “the red mist fell” and the defendant lost control of his normal good sense.

“You became involved in a serious case of dangerous driving which resulted in tragic, fatal consequences,” he said.

He had been convicted of dangerous driving that amounted to racing – driving that created a substantial risk of danger.

“You challenged a man who you knew would not give up.

“He was attempting to overtake you and you put your foot down and refused to allow him to complete the overtaking manoeuvre.”

The judge said that the deceased was a fast and irresponsible driver.

Davies knew that, and that he would take up the challenge.

“You were determined that you were not going to be overtaken,” said Judge Parry.

When the deceased had no alternative but to try and find his back to the correct side of the road “your actions meant it was too late,” the judge told Davies.

Mr Bennett became involved in a catastrophic collision with two other vehicles.

The starting point for such a case was a five year prison sentence but the range went up to seven years, the judge warned.

“The reality is that no sentence can, and it is never intended to, reflect the tragic loss of a young life,” the judge said.

Davies had a trial and could have no credit for a guilty plea.

There were no statutory aggravating features and there was great personal and other mitigation.

Davies had no driving or other convictions.

Judge Parry said that he had heard cogent and persuasive evidence that he was a hard working, trusted and highly respected man. He was highly regarded by the workforce as well as by his employers.

Davies, the judge said, had acted “entirely out of character” and the conviction was a personal tragedy for him as well.

Judge Parry said that a statutory mitigating feature that he had to take into account was that his victim was an irresponsible, dangerous driver whose own actions significantly contributed to the collision and to his death.

It was the second time that the case had come to trial.

A previous jury failed to reach a verdict.