A danger driver ignored lines of queuing traffic after a fatal crash on the M40 as she sped down the hard shoulder.

Anne Ashley, 20, was behind the wheel of her 2012-plate Ford Fiesta between the Wendlebury and Wheatley junctions on November 7 last year when she sped past queuing drivers.

A white MG and purple Mazda had collided on the northbound carriageway between junctions 8A and nine.

As a result, traffic was being held by police on both the northbound and southbound carriageways, to give the emergency services space to deal with the tragedy and give the air ambulance helicopter space to land.

A passenger in the MG, a 57-year-old woman from Bridgend, south Wales, was pronounced dead at the scene. The MG's driver, a man, was taken to hospital with serious injuries. The Mazda driver escaped with minor injuries.

Jay Singh, prosecuting, told Oxford Magistrates’ Court yesterday that police received a number of 999 calls ‘from witnesses reporting vehicles travelling within the closed area and very fast on the southbound carriageway hard shoulder’.

More calls were received later on to say that the same car, a Ford Fiesta, had turned around and was driving back the way it came.

Ashley, then aged 19, was not caught at the time. Instead, Thames Valley Police sent a letter to the young woman as the car’s registered keeper informing her of their intention to prosecute her for dangerous driving.

Having not received any response to the first letter, which was sent on November 16, police officers visited her Coventry home on December 19.

She claimed not to have received the earlier letter. The notice of intended prosecution was served on her a second time and she replied three days before Christmas. Her reply included a ‘handwritten letter making full admission to the offence and was very apologetic’, Ms Singh said.

Appearing before the magistrates’ court yesterday afternoon, Ashley, of Allesley Hall, Coventry, pleaded guilty to dangerous driving. She had no previous convictions.

Richard Demczak, defending, asked the justices to adjourn sentence for the preparation of a probation report. He did not set out the reasons why his client was speeding down the hard shoulder.

The magistrates bailed Ashley to return to court on September 21 for sentence. She was given an interim driving ban disqualifying her from getting behind the wheel.

Last year, witnesses to the fatal crash were asked by Thames Valley Police to contact the force’s serious collision investigation team.

DC Elizabeth Scurlock said at the time: “I would like to thank the public for their patience and understanding while we dealt with what was a particularly difficult scene.”

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This story was written by Tom Seaward. He joined the team in 2021 as Oxfordshire's court and crime reporter.  

To get in touch with him email: Tom.Seaward@newsquest.co.uk

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