West End actress Joanna Reyes killed by road sign when ‘driver fell ASLEEP and ploughed into it’


WEST End actress Joanna Reyes was killed by a road sign when a “driver fell ASLEEP and ploughed into it”, a court heard.

Ibrahim Akbulut, 46, lost control of his Range Rover on a bend ploughing into a pedestrian crossing and knocking over a post which hit the singer, it was said.

 Joanna Reyes was leaving a rehearsal when she was struck


Joanna Reyes was leaving a rehearsal when she was struck

Ms Reyes, 37, was struck by the post at 11.30pm at night and pronounced dead just after midnight in November 2016.

Turkish-born Akbulut is accused of nodding off and failing to navigate a bend instead driving into the traffic island in the middle of the road causing Ms Reyes’s death in Limehouse, East London.

Inner London Crown Court heard Akbulut may have been suffering from a condition called sleep apnea and had an episode of ‘micro-sleep’ at the time of the accident.

Richard Milne, prosecuting, said: “On that night this defendant driving his Range Rover failed to navigate a bend of ten degrees and ploughed into, the Crown say, a pedestrian crossing which hit a traffic signal post and the post hit Joanna Reyes as it came down on her head.

 Reyes was rehearsing for the musical Urinetown


Reyes was rehearsing for the musical Urinetown
 The 37-year-old actress on stage


The 37-year-old actress on stage

“There comes a point where there are a whole series of zig zag markings on the road that lead onto the pedestrian crossing, a staggered pedestrian crossing.

“The ten degree bend is a curve to the left. Those markings on the road are to warn drivers of the impending pedestrian crossing which is an island.

“The Crown’s case is that the defendant failed to navigate the ten degree bend and in so doing the Crown say he was driving dangerously and thereby caused the death of Joanna Reyes.

“He should have gone slightly left. He in fact went absolutely straight on and made no attempt to go around the pedestrian crossing, “The result was the car mounted the central island and struck the post.”

The prosecutor said Akbulut had “fallen asleep without warning” and that he should not have been driving on the night.

Mr Milne said: “He was at the time likely to have been suffering from sleep apnea. A condition that precipitated what is called a micro sleep.

“It may well be his defence that he was unaware he suffered from this condition and at the time the driving was involuntary.

“The Crown’s case is that he simply fell asleep. For whatever reason – tiredness.

“He shouldn’t have been driving and he shouldn’t have been driving down the Commercial Road with that condition.”

Jurors are expected to hear from witnesses of the incident who described seeing a ‘body flying’ as the car struck the post.

Akbulut, of Islington, north London, denies one count of causing death by dangerous driving.

The trial, expected to last for four days, continues.


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