A man who killed a young woman when he drove the wrong way along the A13 in Dagenham has been jailed for 14 years.

Ashley Loveday, 39 (04.02.84), of Avondale Road, E16, was sentenced at the Old Bailey on Thursday, 9 March.

He previously pleaded guilty to causing death by dangerous driving, causing serious injury by dangerous driving and aggravated vehicle taking at a hearing at the same court on Wednesday, 25 January.

The collision happened at around 02:35hrs on 25 November 2022, after a van, which Loveday was driving in the wrong direction on the Essex-bound carriageway, collided with a black Toyota Prius.

The van had failed to stop for Essex Police officers prior to entering the A13. Essex officers had followed the vehicle using the correct side of the road.

Grace Payne, aged 21 and from the Upminster area, was a passenger in the Prius. She was pronounced dead at the scene.

The court heard the van Loveday was driving had been stolen and was on false plates which resulted in an ANPR activation. Officers from Essex Police signalled for the driver to stop, but he failed to do so.

In an attempt to get away, he drove onto the A13 in the wrong direction and travelled against oncoming traffic at an average speed of 71mph.

After driving for more than one-and-a-half miles, he collided with a Toyota Prius. Grace Payne, who was travelling as a passenger in the car, died at the scene. The driver of the Prius suffered life-changing injuries.

Loveday was also injured and taken to hospital, however his injuries were not serious and he was discharged after around a month.

He was then charged by detectives from the Met’s Serious Collision Investigation Unit and remanded in custody.

In a statement released after the collision, Grace’s parents said: “Grace’s death has left us, along with the rest of her family and friends, devastated. We are struggling to come to terms with the fact that our daughter will never be coming home.

“How can we describe Grace? She made us proud in so many ways. She was caring, compassionate, bright, funny, bubbly – her friends always said that she had the ability to brighten up their day. When she walked out of a room, she left everyone feeling happier than when she had walked in. She always wanted to help, always wanted to make people happy.

“She loved children, and although happily working in HR, she said her long-term goal was to retrain when she reached 30 and become a primary school teacher. When she helped her Dad and brother, Jack, coach the juniors at Brentwood Cricket Club, she was usually entrusted with the youngest age groups, supplying cuddles whenever necessary.

“Grace graduated from the University of Kent this year with a degree in history and philosophy. She spent much of the summer travelling around Europe with university friends – trips to Italy, Greece, Sicily, Barcelona and Amsterdam. There were family holidays to Devon and Wales. She passed her driving test, celebrated her 21st birthday and started work with an architects firm in London which she instantly loved. It had been a very happy, exciting, busy year. She was a 21-year-old starting to live life to the full after the confinements of Covid.

“If Grace was out with a group of friends, it was always said she was the one looking after everyone else, making sure they would get home safely. Last week, she joined work colleagues on their regular Thursday night out. Tragically, she never made it home.”

The Independent Office for Police Conduct is carrying out a separate investigation into the circumstances leading up to the collision including the involvement of Essex Police officers prior to the crash

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