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Ian Harvey cleared of dangerous driving charges after crash death of Susan Hayward

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A soldier who caused a near head-on fatal accident when he lost control of his car over a hill has been cleared of causing death by dangerous driving.

Ian Harvey was also acquitted of two charges of causing serious injury by dangerous driving.

The 24-year-old, of Burdett Avenue, Gravesend, had admitted causing the death of Susan Hayward, from Chatham, by careless driving.

Chalk Road, Higham.
Chalk Road, Higham.

Mrs Hayward’s husband Anthony and his brother Mark were seriously injured.

Maidstone Crown Court heard Harvey confessed at the scene of the crash in Lower Road, Higham that it was his fault.

Another driver had described him travelling at “a phenomenal speed” when overtaken by his Ford Fiesta shortly before the accident on December 5 2015.

Harvey was with his girlfriend and a friend on the unlit single carriageway road travelling towards Higham village at about 8.30pm.

Barry Jones estimated Harvey’s Fiesta was driving at about 65mph in the 50mph limit when it passed his car.

Travelling in the opposite direction from the village was Mark Hayward in his Ford Focus with his wife Christine a front seat passenger and Anthony and Susan Hayward, 56, in the back seat.

They had left home at 7pm to attend a 50th birthday party at Higham village hall. They mistakenly drove past the hall and realised they were leaving the village.

Mr Hayward turned the car around and as he went back saw the Fiesta coming over the hill.

“The Crown say it was travelling at great speed - well in excess of the speed limit,” said prosecutor Eloise Marshall.

“It came towards them, fishtailed around and crossed the road over to the left and back again. Mark Hayward described it coming directly towards him.

Chalk Road, Higham.
Chalk Road, Higham.

“He had no time to take any evasive action, nor did Ian Harvey have time to take any evasive action. This was a near head-on collision.

“He was firmly on the wrong side of the road when he hit the car. Each person in the car that survived described seeing the car literally seconds before it hit.”

Miss Marshall said all except Susan Hayward managed to get out of the car.

Harvey approached Christine Hayward and said: “I am sorry, I lost control.”

Susan Hayward was pronounced dead in an ambulance at the scene.

Mark Hayward suffered broken ribs and fractures to his vertebrae. Anthony Hayward had a dislocated and fractured hip. Christine Hayward was also injured.

The prosecutor said Harvey accepted he was at fault to a certain degree.

“He accepts he was driving carelessly,” she said. “He says he was not driving dangerously.”

Judge Adele Williams will pass sentence on May 26. Bail was continued.

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