Motorist jailed after death of friend near St Albans
PUBLISHED: 17:01 03 February 2017 | UPDATED: 17:01 03 February 2017
A motorist who caused the death of a friend and drove into the path of an oncoming lorry after being ‘distracted’ by his mobile phone was jailed for 27 months today (Friday).
Sajid Ali, 30, had a phone in his hand when he pulled the borrowed VW Touran in front of a truck on the A5 at Markyate.
Chaudhry Ahmed, who was sitting behind the front seat passenger, was thrown from the vehicle by the impact, and died.
Last month, Ali, from St Albans Road in Watford, was found guilty at St Albans Crown Court of causing the death of his friend by dangerous driving.
During his sentencing, Judge Andrew Bright said: “I have no doubt at the time you had your mobile phone in your hand and were preparing to use it. As a result you were distracted and did not see the recovery truck coming towards you.”
In the witness box, Ali had said he was working part-time in the Day One grocery shop and off licence in Watford at the time of the crash.
Asked by his barrister, Sam Parham, to describe Mr Ahmed, he said: “He was a friendly person. I had known him for a year. He came to the shop. We were really good friends.
“I feel so bad because of the accident. My friend passed away. I am feeling so sad for his family. They have lost a brother, son and husband. I can’t express in words how I feel ashamed and sad. There is a hole in my life. He died because of my careless driving.
“I wish I could move back time to save his life.”
The Touran, driven by the defendant and carrying three passengers, was travelling north to a cash and carry. Meanwhile, the recovery truck was heading from the opposite direction, south from Markyate, to attend a call on the M1, when the crash occurred at about 9pm on December 12, 2014.
The jury heard that as the two vehicles approached each other and were just yards apart, Ali made a sudden right turn towards the entrance of the Esso Petrol Station forecourt.
Ali, who denied he had been using the mobile phone, told the jury he pulled over to buy soft drinks from the petrol station.
He said: “I indicated to go right. I went into the middle turning lane. I saw lights from the front of me. I thought I had enough time to turn right.
“I heard a bang and the airbag hit my face and I went unconscious.”
Prosecutor Alan Blake said the manoeuvre took the Touran directly into the path of the truck and the driver did not have time to avoid the collision.
He said either he had been distracted and had not been observing the road ahead and the truck bearing down on him as he made the right turn, or he did see it and took a chance thinking he could turn into the garage.
The jury was told a witness who arrived at the crashed car moments after the collision saw a phone which was lit up in the hand of the driver who was still behind the wheel.
A subsequent examination of the phone revealed that it was not being used at the time of the crash but, the prosecutor said, if the witness was correct about the phone, it could explain the inattention of the driver or it had hampered his ability to perform the turn.
Judge Bright said the brother of Mr Ahmed, who was married but had no children, described his death as a “nightmare that will never end”.
The judge added: “You made a dreadful, dreadful decision, which had horrific consequences.”
Sending him to jail for 27 months, the judge also banned Ali from driving for three years and 45 days - this is effectively a two-year ban from the day that Ali is released from prison. He must also take an extended re-test before he can regain his licence.
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