BMW driver Mark White who caused fatal crash may have fallen asleep at the wheel
Site of a fatal car
accident on the A2070 near Hamstreet
The driver of a BMW car involved in a head-on crash in which a
young woman died when her car exploded might have fallen
asleep at the wheel.
Carpenter Mark White, 54, had sent three text messages earlier
in the day admitting he was tired and needed sleep.
But a judge heard he now had no memory of the accident which
happened on the A2070 at Ashford bypass at Hamstreet on Good Friday
The victim, Rebekah Alderson, was a 24-year-old who worked with
vulnerable youngsters and was planning to get married when she was
driving her car at midnight.
White, of Chalkwell Road, Sittingbourne wept as he was asked if
he was guilty or not guilty of causing her death by driving
The driver, who appeared at Canterbury Crown Court supported by
crutches, took three attempts before saying: “guilty”.
He was jailed for two-and-a-half years after it was revealed
that at the scene of the crash he had admitted: “I think it was my
fault. I was overtaking” and later: “I may have fallen asleep”.
Judge Heather Norton said: “As a result of that
collision, Rebekah Alderson’s car caught fire. Tragically attempts
to rescue her failed and she died at the scene.
“I have read statements from those who knew her, loved her and
worked with her. She was a daughter, a sister, an aunt and the much
loved partner to Ryan May, who she was planning to marry. Shortly
after her death she was awarded a first-class degree.”
Her boyfriend would later describe her as: “Beautiful,
enchanting, caring, fun and young.”
The judge told White: “No amount of remorse from you will bring
Prosecutor Anthony Haycroft told how White was returning from
visiting his son and overtook a Peugeot in front of him.
But as he did he collided with Rebekah's oncoming Ford Ka before
striking the passenger door of the Peugeot.
White suffered severe injuries in the crash and he was in
hospital for six weeks and then was in a wheelchair for a number of
But Rebekah – who had tried to steer away from the oncoming BMW
– was trapped in her car as other motorists using a fire
extinguisher and emergency crew fought a desperate battle to rescue
White said all he remembered were "very, very bright
lights...then an explosion", the court heard.
He would later tell police he thought: “I couldn’t have done
something that stupid. To me it's stupidity."
The judge told the carpenter: “There is no evidence that Rebekah
was driving in any other way than in a competent and caring
"No amount of remorse from you will bring her back" – Judge Heather Norton
“It was on one hand a
tragic accident with ramifications for numerous people. On the
other this is an accident caused by you and by your standard of
driving, making a dangerous manoeuvre at an inappropriate time and
driving whilst tired.
“But no-one would suggest that you ever intended such an
outcome, “ she added.
Jemma Levinson, defending, said White had lost a child many
years ago and had completed fund-raising activities to raise money
for a hospital.
“He is deeply remorseful and has been deeply affected by the
consequences of his actions that day. And there will be long-term
problems both physically and emotionally for him, “ she added.
In a letter written to the court, White said: “I would like
to say how sorry I am by what happened. I know nothing I say will
bring Rebekah back however much I would wish it.
“The trauma caused by this loss of life lives with me every day
of my life and will do for the rest of my life. The pain of
Rebecca’s family feel, I imagine, will be intolerable. “
White was also banned from driving for four years and told he
will have to take an extended driving test before he is allowed to
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