Driver of A1(M) accident sent to prison for death of child and aunt
6 mins read

Driver of A1(M) accident sent to prison for death of child and aunt

Image Source, Family leaflet

Photo Title, Zackary Blades and his aunt Karlene Warner were killed in a crash caused by drunk driving Darryl Anderson

A driver who killed a baby and his aunt in a horrific motorway crash has been sentenced to more than 17 years in prison.

Darryl Anderson, 38, was drunk and taking photos of himself while driving at more than 140mph when he crashed on the A1(M) in County Durham on May 31.

Eight-month-old Zackary Blades and 30-year-old Karlene Warner, passengers in the car he hit, died at the scene, Durham Crown Court heard.

Anderson, from Rotherham, who admitted two counts of causing death by dangerous driving, initially told police his Audi Q5 was being driven by a hitchhiker he had picked up.

  • Author, Duncan Leatherdale
  • Role, BBC North East & Cumbria
Subtitles for the movie, Watch Killer Driver Claim “Mistakes Happen”

Prosecutor Emma Dowling said Zackary’s mother, Shalorna Warner, took her sleeping son with her when she went to pick up her sister Karlene from Newcastle Airport in the early hours of May 31.

Anderson, of Clarell Walk, Thorpe Hesley, also arrived at Newcastle Airport from a holiday which his wife ended early because of his “unstable behaviour”, Ms Dowling said.

He picked up his Audi Q5 at the airport, where an airport employee smelled alcohol on him.

Anderson told the worker his wife had left him on holiday but he was travelling to Bradford to pick up another one, Ms Dowling said.

Image Source, Durham Police

Photo Title, Darryl Anderson pleads guilty to causing death by dangerous driving

Due to roadworks on the A1, southbound traffic was diverted through Newcastle city centre, where cameras showed Anderson driving around five minutes behind the Peugeot he hit.

Witnesses on the Felling bypass said he was speeding and overtaking cars, with one person saying he was driving like a “bloody idiot”, Ms Dowling said.

The court heard that at 3.17am, about four miles south of Chester-le-Street, Anderson rear-ended a Peugeot while taking a photo of himself driving at twice the 70mph limit.

“The rear of (Mrs Warner’s) vehicle was so crushed there was no rear section of the vehicle left,” Ms Dowling said.

Image Source, Family leaflet

Photo Title, Zackary’s parents, Jack Blades and Shalorna Warner, said their son is just starting to learn to walk.

Shalorna Warner said they were driving and talking about her sister’s vacation when “suddenly there was a deafening bang” and the vehicle began to spin.

She said the back of her car was “completely crushed” and “disappeared” and she began a frantic search for her son until a truck driver spotted him lying in the road.

Mrs Warner said her son was thrown 50 metres (164 feet) and suffered serious injuries, while her sister had almost every bone in her body broken.

Jack Blades, Zackary’s father, said there was “no chance they’d get out of there alive.”

Image Source, Durham Police

Photo Title, Darryl Anderson crashed his Audi Q5 after leaving Newcastle Airport

Anderson himself escaped the wreck unharmed and told police at the scene he was sorry before a breathalyser test showed he had 95mcg of alcohol in 100ml of breath. The legal limit is 35mcg.

The court heard the man was taken to hospital as a precaution, where he “joked” and “flirted” with nurses. He also refused to give a blood sample, saying he was afraid of needles, despite having multiple tattoos.

Anderson refused to comment when first interviewed and then gave a “completely false statement” to police, claiming he had picked up a hitchhiker who was driving his car, Ms Dowling said.

Subtitles for the movie, Listen to the A1(M) killer driver’s lie about the hitchhiker

He also told police he was “sorry that people died” but “it wasn’t pleasant to witness it” and “hopes the police catch the driver.”

The police investigated his statements but were able to prove that he was the driver because his DNA was found on the airbag in the steering wheel.

Ms Dowling said the man had previous convictions, including for drink-driving in 2006.

Image Source, Family leaflet

Photo Title, Karlene Warner’s family said she is excited to start her new job as a flight attendant

Zackary’s parents said their son is just starting to stand on his own and say “Mama.”

Ms Warner said it didn’t seem real and that she was “living someone else’s nightmare”.

She stated that Anderson was “conceited and arrogant” and that it was “a measure of his identity” that he only thought about himself.

Mrs Warner’s parents, Nigel and Alison, said there was a “void” in their lives and those of their other two daughters.

Alison Warner said Anderson “chose to kill people” through the decisions he made and fired a “bullet” straight into the heart of his family.

Nigel Warner told the court Anderson was a “despicable man” who “driven a killing machine”, adding his daughter and grandson “had no choice about what happened to them”.

Image Source, Family leaflet

Photo Title, Zackary Blades’ family says his life was just beginning when he was killed

Judge Joanne Kidd said Karlene Warner was a “special” daughter, partner and friend who was on the threshold of a whole new chapter in her life, while Zackary was “so loved” and a “beautiful addition” to the family.

She said the photo of the dashboard Anderson took before the crash was “horrific” while the photos taken after the incident were “something out of a nightmare”.

Judge Kidd said Anderson, who drove about 20 miles (32 km) off his planned route, was “playing Russian roulette with the life of every man, woman and child” he passed, adding that his “aggressive and demanding” driving made catastrophic collisions with other people inevitable.

Anderson was sentenced to 17 years and three months in prison, banned from driving for 21-and-a-half years and will have to pass an extended driving test before he can apply for a licence.

More stories from BBC North East and Cumbria