On Wednesday, Beyond the Kerb wrote
Much of the time, it feels like the view that it’s simply not acceptable to kill people in completely avoidable collisions and then say “Well, it happens” is some form of extremism, and that the rest of society stands around blankly and says, “What are you on about? Of course it’s acceptable. You expect me to actually not drive into people?”
This was provoked by the case of a man who had been killed cycling in Southampton, David Irving, killed despite doing everything he could to keep himself alive, beyond not even cycling in the first place, and yet ended up being blamed, by implication, for his own death. Nobody else was at fault.
A very different case was reported by the Evening Standard yesterday – that of a nine-year-old boy, killed outside his own home. But it betrays the same extraordinary willingness to exonerate and excuse the person who crashed into him, and to blame the victim.
The family of a nine-year-old boy who was killed by a speeding driver today branded British justice a “joke” after the man’s 21-month jail sentence was cut almost in half.
Redwan Uddin was riding on the handlebars of his brother’s bike as they played near their east London home when Ibrahim Waseem, 23, crashed into them at 39mph in a 20mph zone.
He was jailed for 21 months at Snaresbrook crown court in November but on Tuesday had his sentence cut to 12 months by appeal judges. It means he could be released after serving six months following his conviction for causing death by careless driving.
The boy’s tearful uncle, Abu Ahmed, 25, an accountant from Whitechapel, today told of the family’s “devastation” at the new sentence, which he branded “a holiday”. He added: “We have lost faith in the British justice system. It’s a joke. We applied to have the 21-month sentence lengthened but we didn’t even get a reply. He appeals and he has his sentence halved.
“We have to live with this for the rest of our lives and he could be out after six months. The justice system favours the criminals and not the victims.”
Marks & Spencer worker Waseem had been driving in Woodhouse Grove, East Ham, near the brothers’ home, when he lost control of his Mazda on a speed hump and ploughed into the boys in June 2012.
Waseem, who was convicted of driving without insurance in 2008, fled the scene and dumped his car but later turned himself in to police. Lady Justice Rafferty, sitting with Mr Justice Collins and Judge Nicholas Hilliard, said the appeal court’s “heart goes out to Redwan’s family”. But Waseem was “extremely remorseful”, she said, and pointed out the crash occurred as Redwan was perched on the handlebars of a bike, without a helmet, travelling the wrong way down a one-way street.
Lady Justice Rafferty concluded: “We are confident that 21 months was manifestly excessive.”
Waseem was also disqualified from driving for at least 12 months.
‘At least twelve months’. Great news.
In the David Irving trial, the jury was directed, by the judge,
to ignore Highway Code [rules 93 and 237, advising drivers to] slow down or stop if dazzled [because the] Highway Code is not law.
That’s fine if you are driving a car. If you are driving a car, the Highway Code isn’t relevant, because it isn’t law.
But in the case of Redwan Uddin – who, let’s remember, was a nine-year-old boy, someone we should hardly expect to be fully conversant with road rules – the Highway Code suddenly becomes relevant in mitigation.
(Let’s not even stop to think here about the absurdity of a situation in which young children can’t even play on a bicycle, travelling in any direction, on the tiny street in front of their own house, and have to wear helmets in case a car comes flying out of nowhere at 40mph).
Was he wearing a helmet? No – well, that’s relevant.
Was he on the handlebars? Yes – well, that’s relevant.
Was he cycling the wrong way on a one-way street? Yes – well, that’s relevant.
But in any sane assessment of what happened here, all these details are completely irrelevant. Redwan Uddin could have been crossing the road, on foot, without a helmet, without being perched on handlebars, and would have been killed in precisely the same way.
He could have been cycling the correct way, with a full face crash helmet, on a saddle and not the handlebars, and would have been killed in precisely the same way.
What killed Uddin was a very heavy metal object flying off a speed hump at 40 mph, on a residential street, piloted by a deeply irresponsible man.
Yet once again the judicial system scrabbles around to find minor details, to lessen his responsibility.