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New Milton man Dale Clark jailed over hit-and-run crash on Redhill Avenue in Bournemouth which nearly killed mum-of-three Rebecca Sharp

A mum-of-three who was nearly killed by a drink-driver from New Milton has pleaded with people not to get behind the wheel if they have been drinking after being left in a wheelchair following the hit-and-run crash.

Rebecca Sharp (36) “miraculously” managed to push her 11-month-old baby girl, who was in a buggy, out of the path of an oncoming Toyota Rav4 driven by Dale Clark on Redhill Avenue in Bournemouth on 11th April this year.

Hit by Clark’s car, Mrs Sharp was thrown “like a rag doll” and landed a “the length of a cricket pitch away”. She was in a coma for two months and now faces “months if not years” of rehabilitation.

Rebecca Sharp speaking outside Bournemouth Crown Court, with husband Dan
Rebecca Sharp speaking outside Bournemouth Crown Court, with husband Dan

Clark (38), a scaffolder from York Avenue, was sentenced today (Monday) at Bournemouth Crown Court where he was jailed for three years and eight months.

Speaking outside the court, Mrs Sharp said: “I really felt I wanted to be here to find out what happened. I wanted to see him in court.

“I have no memory of the accident. My life has been turned upside down. I say to people, don’t do drugs, or drink and drive, the outcome is never good.”

Mrs Sharp revealed she had missed her youngest daughter’s first teeth, her first birthday, and added: “And then she started walking!”

Since the crash Mrs Sharp has remained in hospital. In a victim impact statement, her husband Dan told the court how her two other daughters, aged seven and five, miss their mum, with one asking: “Will mummy be better and be able to come to my birthday party?”

An emotional Mr Sharp told how his family’s life “has been changed forever” adding: “My world was shattered. Becky spent eight weeks in a coma, and I lay awake every night waiting for a phone call to say she had died.”

Mrs Sharp suffered a traumatic brain injury, fractured skull, and broken ribs, pelvis and leg, along with a lacerated spleen. Firemen stationed near the scene battled to save her life and she had to receive a blood transfusion at the roadside before being airlifted to hospital.

Prosecutor Andrew Houston told how Clark, who had pleaded guilty to causing serious injury by dangerous driving, drink-driving and failing to stop, had left the Wheel Inn in Lymington, where two empty litre bottles of vodka were later found in his room.

He said the defendant, a repeat drink driver who avoided looking at Mrs Sharp throughout proceedings, had texted a drug dealer arranging a meet in Winton. He had also messaged two women and received a notification from Tinder.

Clark was using his mobile, which was on his knee, as a sat nav as he drove towards a crossing in Ensbury Park. He was speeding and looking down at the phone as he approached.

Mrs Sharp had checked the road and, seeing it was clear, started to cross towards a play park.

Dale Clark
Dale Clark

But the defendant who had been approaching in the right-hand lane had then, according to a witness, “shot across (the lanes) and accelerated hard”.

Mrs Sharp had “heroically” pushed the baby buggy across the road to save her daughter. She was hit and left lying in the road, her face covered in blood. Clark had stopped but drove off, later claiming to police that he had “gone into panic mode”.

After fleeing the scene Clark drove to New Milton where he told police he had been drinking in the Wellington Pub. But Mr Houston said CCTV showed that was a lie.

In a phone call to police, he asked if Mrs Sharp had died, then after his arrest later that day told them: “I may have been over the speed limit but she literally came out of nowhere.” He then said he had [panicked] and driven off.

A test showed he had 46mg of alcohol in 100ml of breath; the legal limit is 35mg. Clark said he had taken cocaine and consumed vodka the night before.

Defending, Nick Robinson said Clark had taken “refuge” in drugs and drink after the relationship with the mother of his two daughters, aged nine and 11, ended adding: “He was finding being a part-time father very difficult.”

He lived with his grandparents who described him as a “caring and helpful” person. Mr Robinson said the defendant was “deeply ashamed” of what he had done.

In a letter to the court Clark said: “Nothing will take away the pain I have caused but I am truly sorry.” He claimed he did not drink alcohol on the morning of the accident, although two empty bottles of cider were found in his SUV.

Sentencing Clark, Judge William Mousley said of Mrs Sharp: “Her life has been changed forever. You knew what had happened but drove off. “

Paying tribute to the mum, the judge added: “It is a remarkable achievement that she is here.”

The court heard Clark will serve half of his sentence in jail before being released on licence. He was also banned from driving for six years.

After the sentencing, Andrew Coley, senior crown prosecutor for CPS Wessex, said: “This incident has shattered the lives of Mrs Sharp and her family.

“It is especially shocking that when Clark saw Mrs Sharp on the ground with her young child nearby, he chose not to stop and instead left her for dead.

“The CPS worked closely with Dorset Police to build a solid case against Clark – using CCTV evidence to disprove his false claims that he was not above the legal drink drive limit at the time of the collision.

“Our thoughts are with Mrs Sharp and her family, and we wish her all the best in her recovery.”

Detective Constable Michelle Underwood, of the traffic unit, said: “Dale Clark’s actions have left a mother with serious life-changing injuries and it could have been even worse as it is only through pure good fortune that the young child was not harmed in this incident.

“We see all too often the devastating impacts that are caused by motorists driving under the influence of alcohol and at excessive speed. Drivers need to understand that when they are behind the wheel, they are in control of a potentially lethal machine and reckless actions such as this can have truly horrific consequences.

“I would like to thank the members of the public who supported the victim on the day of the collision and provided reassurance, as well as the witness who memorised the registration plate.”

Dan Sharp, along with a friend and brother-in-law are running the London Marathon to raise funds for Brain Research UK. Donate at https://2024tcslondonmarathon.enthuse.com/pf/ross-macleod

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