A DRIVER said he caused a fatal motorway crash because he had “a phobia” about wasps.
Richard Knight was travelling on the M3 at Basingstoke on May 16 this year when his VW Golf swerved from the outside lane into the middle lane, hitting a car driven by 68-year-old Anne Bater.
Her Honda Jazz then careered up a bank and came to rest on its roof. Mrs Bater, from High Wycombe, was pronounced dead at Basingstoke hospital later that evening. Her husband, who was a passenger, survived with a back injury.
Knight, of Aspen Grove, Aldershot, appeared at Basingstoke Magistrates’ Court having pleaded guilty to causing death by careless driving.
He urged magistrates not to ban him from driving, claiming there was a wasp in his car and he had a phobia about winged insects.
The 28-year-old told the court that he was heading from Andover to Aldershot, travelling at 70 miles per hour in the outside lane of the M3, when he noticed a wasp flying near his right ear.
He said he wound down the driver’s window, but the wasp started flying around in the car and distracted him.
He said that he veered into the middle lane, hitting Mrs Bater’s car, as he tried to put down the passenger side window.
The court heard that psychiatric tests later revealed Knight had a phobia of winged insects that can sting.
Asked how he felt when he saw the wasp in his car, he told magistrates: “I was very anxious and worried, and obviously did not want to be stung, and my instinct was just to get it out of the car.”
James Burnham, prosecuting, said Knight’s “special reason” application to avoid a driving ban should be ignored as he should have safely pulled over to the hard shoulder to let the wasp out.
He also read out victim impact statements from Mr Bater’s husband Keith and their two daughters, who were all in court.
Mr Bater said in his statement: “I never knew the true meaning of the word bereft but that’s how I feel now. The house is empty and I’m very lonely.”
Matthew Kerruish-Jones, defending, said Knight had shown genuine remorse about the crash.
Presiding magistrate Roy Cleave rejec-ted Knight’s “special reason” application, saying that there were other actions Knight could have taken to avoid the accident.
He banned him from driving for 18 months, gave him an 18-month community order with 200 hours unpaid work, and ordered that he pay £85 in costs.