Man admits causing death of woman and baby in crash on A1 in County Durham

Eight-month-old Zackary Blades and his aunt, 30-year-old Karlene Warner, were killed in the collision on the A1(M) in County Durham on 31 May. Credit: Durham Police

A man has pleaded guilty to causing the death of a woman and a baby in a crash.

Darryl Anderson, 38, was driving his Audi Q5 when he crashed into a Peugeot 308, killing eight-month-old Zackary Blades and 30-year-old Karlene Warner.

The fatal collision happened on the A1(M) between Chester-le-Street and Durham at around 3.15am on Friday May 31.

Zackary's mother Shalorna Warner, who was driving the Peugeot, was also injured in the crash.

Darryl Anderson was arrested at the scene and appeared at Durham Crown Court by video link on Monday 1 July charged with causing death by dangerous driving.

He pleaded guilty to the charges and was remanded in custody until his sentencing on Tuesday 9 July.

Anderson denied unlawfully possessing a knife and an axe at the time of the crash and those not guilty pleas were accepted by the prosecution.

About 30 members of Zackary and Karlene's family attended the hearing.

Judge Joanne Kidd said the family had only just heard some distressing details about the crash which they were told after it was known Anderson would plead guilty.

They will have time to process what they have learned before they make victim statements ahead of what the judge said will be a “very difficult hearing” for them next week.

When the judge asked Richard Dawson, defending, if he had any comments to make, he replied: “Only to express our sympathy and condolences to those who have been bereaved in this case.”

On Sunday 30 June, the night before the hearing, members of the community lit candles in memory of Zackary and Karlene.

Members of the community lit candles in memory of Zackary and Karlene on the eve of the court hearing. Credit: Facebook

After the crash, Shalorna Warner and Zackary’s father, Jack Blades, paid tribute to their son.

“I’m so sorry you never got to grow up,” they said.

“Our little Zack – mammy and daddy love you so much, you didn’t deserve any of this.

“You were such a happy, cheeky boy.

“I am so sorry this has happened – our hearts are truly broken. We will never forget you, you will always be in our hearts.”

The family also paid tribute to Ms Warner, saying: “How do we put into words to describe the amazing mother, partner, daughter, sister, granddaughter, auntie, niece, and friend Karlene was?

“You light up every room you walked into like the bright shining diamond that you were.

“You had so much to look forward to in life and that has been taken.”

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