Drink-driver who left Bournemouth mum, walking baby daughter, with significant brain injury jailed

Dale Clark was sentenced to three years and eight months in prison. Credit: Dorset Police

A driver who was drunk behind the wheel of his SUV when he ploughed into a mother as she pushed her baby's pram, has been jailed for three years and eight months.

Dale Clark, who is 38 and from New Milton in Hampshire, knocked down Rebecca Sharp as she was walking her 11-month old in the Redhill area of Bournemouth on 11 April 2023.

Mrs Sharp had just taken two of her children to school when she was struck by the Toyota RAV4.

The collision resulted in Mrs Sharp being left with life-changing injuries, including swelling on the brain.

Clark was also banned from driving for six years, with an extension period of one year and 10 months.

Rebecca Sharp was left in a life-threatening condition in hospital following the collision Credit: Scene stills / family handout

The court heard that Mrs Sharp's youngest daughter, who thankfully was unharmed, was sent flying into the air after being pushed out of the way in a quick-thinking moment, as Clark sped away from the scene.

After being airlifted to Southampton General Hospital, Sharp spent two months in a coma, with doctors saying her recovery is likely to take years.

He was arrested several hours after the incident and was breathalysed giving a reading of 46 micrograms of alcohol in 100ml of breath – above the legal limit of 35 micrograms.

Dale Clark pleaded guilty to the crash in a hearing at Bournemouth Crown Court in May having initially said he was not guilty.

At a separate hearing at Poole Magistrates’ Court he also pleaded guilty to drink-driving.

A CPS spokesman said: “Dale Clark, 38, was speeding in his Toyota Rav-4 when he struck Rebecca Sharp as she was pushing her daughter in a pram across Redhill Avenue in Bournemouth shortly after 9am on April 11 2023.

“Mrs Sharp, 36, was able to push her daughter to safety moments before being hit and suffered near fatal head injuries, from which she is still recovering.

“The motorist initially denied he was over the drink-drive limit, but working with police, CPS prosecutors were able to prove Clark’s driving was impaired by alcohol he consumed the previous night – thanks to CCTV and witness evidence.

“Instead of stopping at the scene, Clark fled and left Mrs Sharp lying unconscious in the middle of the road.

“One witness memorised Clark’s number plate before rushing to Mrs Sharp’s aid with another driver.”

Bournemouth Crown Court. Credit: PA

The spokesman said: “He claimed he had been drinking at a pub in New Milton following the crash.

“However, CCTV inquiries at the pub in question proved Clark had not visited. In addition, a cleaner who worked at an inn Clark had stayed in the previous evening reported finding two empty litre bottles of vodka in his room.”

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.”

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