East Ham actress died when driver fell asleep and hit lamppost which fell on her in Shoreditch, court hears

PUBLISHED: 18:05 06 December 2018 | UPDATED: 18:07 06 December 2018

Joanna Reyes died after the lamppost fell on her head. Pic: PMA London

Joanna Reyes died after the lamppost fell on her head. Pic: PMA London

PMA London

A man involved in a car crash in which a budding actress from East Ham lost her life was asleep at the wheel, a court has heard.

Joanna Reyes was tipped for success. Pic: PMA LondonJoanna Reyes was tipped for success. Pic: PMA London

Ibrahim Akbulut, 46, crashed his white Range Rover into a lamppost in a central reservation on Commercial Road in Shoreditch, on the night of November 16 2016.

The lamppost then fell onto the head of Joanna Reyes, 37, who was midway through crossing the road and inflicted injuries which led to her death, according to prosecution barrister Richard Milne today at Inner London Crown Court.

The prosecution added that Mr Akbulut told a police officer that night: “I was driving along the road and I think I fell asleep.”

He added: “I hit something, I’m not sure what I hit.

“I didn’t know I’d hit a lady until I got out the car.”

The crash was shortly before 11.20pm and Ms Reyes was pronounced dead at the scene less than an hour later.

Mr Akbulut told police he had drunk a glass of wine at lunchtime, but tests showed he had no traces of alcohol or drugs in his system at the time of the crash.

Road traffic accident expert Pc John Hallmark told the court there was no evidence of the defendant driving badly earlier on in his journey.

Mr Akbulut failed to negotiate a 10-degree bend in the road but was not exceeding the 30mph speed limit at the time of the crash, the prosecution said.

Mr Milne told the court: “The driving in this case was dangerous and clearly fell far below the standard of a competent and careful driver.”

He added that after getting out his car Mr Akbulut was seen by witnesses holding a mobile phone.

Mr Milne said the defendant was “carrying in his hand a lit up mobile phone” when he left the car which he “continued to pay attention to” in the immediate aftermath of the crash.

There is no evidence to suggest the mobile phone was being used at the time the car hit the lamppost, he added.

Mr Akbulut was driving down Commercial Road when he hit Ms Reyes, who was making her way home from a rehearsal at Shoreditch’s City Academy drama school.

Following her death, her agent Linda Bradley said Ms Reyes was tipped for success and was being considered for roles in films and West End shows.

The court heard how in a formal police interview the day after the crash Mr Akbulut declined to answer police questions.

Family members of Ms Reyes were in court as the prosecution opened their case.

Mr Akbulut is accused of one count of causing death by dangerous driving, which he denies.

He appeared in court dressed in a blue suit, aided by a Turkish translator.

Defence barrister Peter Rowlands is yet to open his case.

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