A driver was jailed for 16 months for causing death by dangerous driving after an aluminium board flew off the roof rack of his van and smashed into the windscreen of a BMW car - killing a 50-year-old nurse.

Barry Slaymaker, aged 31, had been at the wheel of his VW Transporter in September last year when there was a crosswind gusting at 33mph and the board flew off and hit the car driven by mum Susan Owen of Pentre Berw, near Llangefni in Anglesey.

She had been on the way to hairdressers in readiness to flying to New York with her husband to celebrate her birthday, Caernarfon crown court heard.

The tragedy happened at Nant y Garth Pass, near Felinheli, Bangor.

Slaymaker pleaded guilty to causing death by dangerous driving.

Judge Huw Rees told Slaymaker, a father-of-six who worked as a plasterer and painter, that the three cords he used to secure the board were inadequate for the purpose. “Failure to secure this led to devastating consequences,” the judge said.

Anna Pope, prosecuting, said Slaymaker secured the board after finishing work at a local tearoom, and the tragedy happened less than half a mile away after he had rounded a bend. Another motorist recalled how the board had lifted off the roof rack and flew through the air across the carriageway before striking the BMW.

Mrs Owen’s car had veered down a grass bank and hit a wall. Passers-by tried to help her.

Slaymaker told police he had secured the board with three “bungee” straps.

Miss Pope said: ”Another motorist, whose car the board had avoided, had stated it travelled through the air, right across the carriageway, before striking the windscreen of the BMW.” It appeared that the steering wheel had been struck.

The judge had heard emotional family impact statements and was also told there were 17 testimonials referring to the character and remorse of Slaymaker, of Maes Meurig, Gwalchmai, Anglesey.

The court heard he'd been devastated by the tragedy and at the time described it as a freak accident.

Matthew Curtis, defending, said he had been described as a devoted father-of-six young children, hard-working, polite and respectful, and of exemplary character. His own health had been affected and “he appears to be punishing himself.”

Judge Rees said :”Significantly, the weather was dry but windy with gust speeds up to 33mph.”

The prosecution case was that the board had slipped to the offside on the roof rack before air flow under it caused it to fly into the carriageway.

The judge said :”I accept you appear devastated that your actions have caused incalculable loss to Mrs Owen’s family. You appear to be genuinely remorseful.”

He was banned for two years and will have to take a re-test. 

Rem Owen, husband of Sue Jane Owen, said in a statement through police :”It has been over 12 months  now since I lost my lovely wife, Sue, and my sons Carwyn and Steffan lost their caring mother. Sue was in the prime of her life and it was taken away so tragically  by the actions of this man  who has been brought to justice today.

“Sue has been missed by so many people. Sue touched the lives of so many people. Sue was loved by so many people.

“Today the matter has concluded and now we must  learn to get on with our lives as Sue  would want.

The sentence will never bring Sue back to us, but it will draw a line in the sand and we move on.”