An uninsured driver who lost control of a speeding Audi Quattro Q7 in Bradford has been jailed for more than four years for causing the death of his 'best man' in a horrific crash.
Muhammad Awaisi, 23, and four friends from the Bristol area had travelled north for a weekend away in January last year, but the trip ended in tragedy when the car crashed into a wall at the junction of Bowling Back Lane and Birksland Street on a snowy Sunday afternoon.
None of the five men in the car, which was written off, were wearing seatbelts and rear seat passenger Syed Zaeen Hassan, 22, suffered “catastrophic head injuries” which killed him almost instantly.
On Friday Bradford Crown Court heard that the two men had been close friends since school and Mr Hassan was due to 'best man' at Awaisi’s wedding.
In the aftermath of the crash, Awaisi, of Lockleaze Road, Bristol, initially claimed that Mr Hassan had been driving the Audi and also tried to blame him for forging an insurance certificate which had enabled the defendant to borrow the high-performance car for the weekend.
During today’s hearing Judge Neil Davey QC was shown footage recorded on mobile phones by the group which captured Awaisi driving at 120mph on a stretch of motorway as they headed north.
The footage also showed the driver Awaisi and his front seat passenger both filming with their phones while the car was moving.
Prosecutor Jonathan Sharp said Awaisi, who got his licence in 2016, seemed to have “a taste for driving high-performance machines” having admitted driving a Mercedes S-Class and a Porsche Cayenne in the past.
During the weekend the group travelled to Stockport and Blackpool before they drove over to Bradford.
“Videos taken during these journeys by at least two of the passengers show both that the defendant was driving very badly and, regrettably, that the passengers were doing nothing to dissuade him,” said Mr Sharp.
After arriving in Bradford city centre Awaisi tried to provoke a race by pursuing the driver of a sporty Volkswagen Golf R and the innocent motorist feared that the men in the Audi might be planning to steal his vehicle.
During the incident Awaisi ran a red light, reversed down Leeds Road and made a dangerous turn into oncoming traffic before the Golf driver eventually pulled over and stopped because of the snowy and slushy road conditions.
Mr Sharp said as Awaisi overtook the stationary VW Golf on Birksland Street he flashed his hazard lights “as a victory signal” and CCTV captured the Audi doing 58mph on the 30mph shortly before the fatal crash.
“The defendant saw the junction too late,” said Mr Sharp, “It appears that he had been concentrating instead in pursuing the Golf and the celebrating his “victory” over its driver.
“One of his friends described him as being fired up by the chase.”
Awaisi, who had no previous convictions, had been due to stand trial in February, but a week before he entered guilty pleas to charges of causing death by dangerous driving and causing death while driving without insurance.
Barrister Alistair Webster QC, for Awaisi, said the death of his close friend had had a significant effect on his client’s mental health and he confirmed that Mr Hassan had been due to be the defendant’s best man at his wedding.
In his pre-sentence report Awaisi commented:”If I apologise to the family for my whole life it will never be enough.”
Jailing Awaisi for four years and eight months Judge Davey said Mr Hassan was only 22 and had everything to look forward to in life.
“You were knowingly and deliberately driving without insurance for the whole of the weekend including at the time that Syen Hassan was killed and that is an aggravating factor in causing death by dangerous driving,” the judge told Awaisi.
The judge said Awaisi simply did not care that weekend how many road traffic offences he committed and he also highlighted the lies told by the defendant and his attempts to blame the deceased.
Awaisi was also banned from driving for a total of five years and 10 months and he must take a mandatory extended retest at the end of the disqualification period.
Detective Constable Simon Marshall of West Yorkshire Police's Major Collision Enquiry Team (MCET), said: “The fatal collision on Bowling Back Lane was an absolute tragedy for Syed’s family.
"That day they lost a bright, intelligent man, whom was loved dearly by so many.
“I am pleased the court process has come to an end today with the sentencing of Awaisi for his part in a truly appalling incident.
“Throughout the investigation he sought to evade justice and only at the last moment admitted the offences against him.
“Speeding in such bad weather conditions was an act of utter stupidity and extreme recklessness which frankly beggars belief.
“I would like to praise the actions of the members of public who assisted the emergency services on the day and indeed throughout the entire investigation.
“My thoughts remain today with Syed’s family who have maintained their dignity throughout, despite Awaisi only admitting his guilt at the very last court hearing.”