Family tells of Leeds hit-and-run ordeal

Sabah and Rayhan Saleem
Sabah and Rayhan Saleem
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A FAMILY has spoken of the “nightmare” ordeal they have endured at the hands of a hit-and-run driver after he was jailed for 22 months.

Mohammed Khalil Anwar knocked down Sabah Saleem, 10, and her brother Rayhan, two, as they crossed the road just yards from their home.

The pair had been to the shop with their cousin to buy vegetables for the family’s Eid celebrations when they were struck on Brudenell Road, Hyde Park, Leeds in August last year.

Sabah, now 11, has been hailed a hero by her proud father Mohammed Saleem Rafique who said she saved her brother’s life by taking the brunt of the impact.

Following the ordeal, the family were forced to move from their home in Hyde Park into a bungalow in New Farnley, Leeds, to help Sabah, who has been left permanently disabled.

Mr Rafique told the Yorkshire Post that the family are now rebuilding their lives.

He said: “We are satisfied because now he is off the road.

“We can get on with our lives now. It has been tough on the family especially for Sabah.

“We had to move out of the community and come to a bungalow to help her and it has been tough to leave our friends and family behind.

“We have had to make a lot of sacrifices.

“She is getting better and that is the main thing.”

Sabah spent months recovering from her devastating injuries in hospital and underwent emergency surgery.

At one point the family were told by medical staff that they did not know whether the youngster would recover from the head injuries she had sustained.

But the youngster fought against the odds to return back home with her family.

Sabah, who dreams of becoming an architect, has had a permanent device to drain fluid fitted in her brain.

She suffers from double vision, has problems with her memory and often struggles with her balance.

But the family are determined to tell Rayhan, now four, about his heroic sister who helped to save his life.

Mr Rafique added: “She is a hero and a warrior. If Sabah was not there then Rayhan wouldn’t be here.

“We don’t know where we would be if any of them lost their lives. We would be lost forever.”

The family were forced to relive the horror of the ordeal when they came face-to-face with Anwar in court.

Mr Rafique said: “It was like a nightmare.

“It is something that will stay with me and haunt me for the rest of my life.

“It was horrible to come face-to-face with the man who did this. Ultimately he is pure evil.

“He has ruined a little girl’s life and her aspirations and ambitions to become something in life.

“We didn’t know if she was going to live and that was so just hard.”

Leeds Crown Court yesterday heard that he drove off after the collision.

He tried to evade responsibility by taking the car, which belonged to his brother-in-law Raja Khan, to an address on the other side of Leeds where he hid it under a tarpaulin.

Sentencing Anwar, Judge Penelope Belcher said from CCTV footage it was estimated he had been driving at nearly 35mph shortly before the collision in a busy residential area which had a 20mph limit.

She told Anwar had he been driving at the correct 20mph limit the collision would never have occurred.

She said: “It follows the serious injuries suffered by these children is a result of your driving.”

The court heard that Anwar had a previous conviction in 2010 for driving without due care and attention and failing to stop after an accident which had again involved him breaking the speed limit

Judge Belcher told the sentencing hearing: “That was 60mph in a 30mph limit and this was 35mph in a 20mph limit.

“You plainly did not learn your lesson about speeding.”

Anwar, 37, of Brudenell Mount, Hyde Park, was found guilty of dangerous driving and jailed for 12 months.

He admitted failing to stop and failing to report an accident and doing acts intending to pervert the course of justice for which he received 10 months to run consecutively.

He was disqualified from driving for 18 months and ordered to take an extended test.

His brother Mohammed Jamil Anwar, 43, also of Brudenell Mount, was imprisoned for 10 months.

He admitted doing an act intending to pervert the course of justice by driving his brother home after he left the car in Gipton, Leeds.

Khan, 40 of Butcher Hill, West Park, Leeds, was jailed for 23 weeks for doing an act intending to pervert the course of justice.