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Driver with insect phobia says wasp in his car was behind fatal crash that left pensioner deadRichard Knight, 28, swerved his car because he 'didn't want to get stung'Smashed into Anne Bater's car at 70mph on the M3 in BasingstokeHanded 18-month ban after magistrates reject his 'special application'
16:17 GMT, 27 December 2012
A driver who caused a motorway smash which killed a pensioner has been banned from the roads after he said he had been distracted by a wasp.
Richard Knight, 28, told a court his 'phobia' of the insects caused him to swerve across a lane at 70mph on the M3 because he 'didn't want to be stung'.
But magistrates rejected his excuse and handed him an 18-month driving ban.
Anne Bater, 68, died after the crash on the M3 in Basingstoke in may this year
His VW Golf hit a Honda Jazz which careered off the motorway in Basingstoke, Hampshire, and landed on its roof killing 68-year-old Anne Bater.
Her husband Keith, who was a passenger, survived with a back injury but told Basingstoke Magistrates' Court he has been left 'bereft' by the loss of his wife.
Knight, from Aldershot, said he was in the outside lane of the motorway when he noticed a
wasp flying near his right ear.
He said he wound the driver's window down, but it remained in the car and distracted him.
Knight said as he tried to put the passenger side window down he veered into the middle lane, hitting Mrs Bater's car.
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.
'I obviously did not want to be stung, and my instinct was just to get it out of the car.'
Richard Knight was given an 18-month driving ban at Basingstoke Magistrates Court after pleading guilty to causing death by careless driving
James Burnham, prosecuting, said Knight's 'special reason' application to avoid a driving ban should be ignored.
Mr Burnham said Knight should have safely pulled over to the hard shoulder to let the wasp out.
He also read out victim impact statements from Mrs Bater's husband 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. Our house is empty and I'm very lonely.'
Mrs Bater, from High Wycombe, Bucks, was pronounced dead at Basingstoke and North Hampshire Hospital after the crash in May this year.
Matthew Kerruish-Jones, defending, said Knight – who pleaded guilty to causing death by careless driving – had shown genuine remorse about the crash.
Knight's 'special reason' application was rejected by residing magistrate Roy Cleave, who said he could have taken other actions to avoid the accident.
Mr Cleave handed Knight an 18-month driving ban and gave him an 18-month community order with 200 hours unpaid work.
He was also ordered to pay 85 in costs.