12th Dec, 2019

Speeding driver who killed toddler in Coventry tried to blame other children for crossing road

Editorial Correspondent 2nd Dec, 2019 Updated: 2nd Dec, 2019

A DRIVER callously tried to shift blame onto three children for the death of their toddler brother after ploughing into him and his mother at almost twice the speed limit.

Mohmood Abid had originally denied causing the death of two-year-old Umar Akhalwaya by dangerous driving and causing his death by driving a car while uninsured.

He also denied causing serious injury to little Umar’s mother Hawa Akhalwaya by dangerous driving in the tragic incident in Stoney Stanton Road, Coventry, in April last year.

Despite a pre-trial hearing, he only pleaded guilty to the three charges on the day of his trial at Warwick Crown Court.

Following an adjournment, Abid (41) of Webster Street, Foleshill, Coventry, was jailed for seven years and two months and banned from driving for six years and seven months.

Prosecutor Jonathan Barker said that on Sunday April 8 Mrs Akhalwaya visited relatives in Stoney Stanton Road with two-year-old Umar and her other three children, aged six, 11 and 13.

After they left at shortly after 9pm, intending to cross the road to where her car was parked, the three older children ran on ahead, crossing the road from what was Abid’s off-side as he headed in the direction of the city centre.

And as Mrs Akhalwaya began crossing the road, where there were cars parked on both sides of the road, with little Umar, they were struck by Abid’s speeding VW Bora.

Mr Barker pointed out that from the CCTV camera at a petrol station he had just passed, it was calculated that Abid was doing 58mph along the 30mph residential road.

A witness described the car being about to strike the three older children, and that it seemed to move around them onto its off-side before striking Umar and his mother.

They were both sent flying through the air for some distance, with Umar ending up under a parked car.

“Tragically Umar suffered un-survivable injuries and was pronounced dead at hospital.”

His mother had extremely serious injuries, including a bleed on the brain, multiple spinal and rib fractures, a fractured pelvis, and fractures to both legs, and has had to undergo several operations.

She was unconscious for two weeks, and it was only when she came round that she learned of Umar’s tragic death.

And Mr Barker pointed out that she was not at court, although her mother and other relatives had attended, because she was in hospital having undergone yet another operation.

Abid remained at the scene, and when he was asked why he had been going so fast, he claimed there was a fault with the car – but no defects could be found when it was examined.

He gave no comment when he was interviewed, but made a statement in which he said he was sorry about what had happened, but denied going too fast or that his driving had been to blame.

In an impact statement read in court, Hawa Akhalwaya said: “Words cannot do justice to the pain I feel on a daily basis, not being able to hear the laughter of my beloved Umar.

“The anguish and agony I feel at not being able to watch him growing up will torment me continuously. He was my life and soul which has been snatched away from me so horrifically.

“A tidal wave of grief broke over me as my family told me of the death of my baby. It has left me disabled for life and my family emotionally scarred.

“Mr Abid, you have never said sorry for your actions or shown any remorse, but for my peace of mind I have forgiven you.”

Joe Hingston, defending, said: “To its very core this is an utter tragedy.

“…It has ruined lives. Far beyond the conclusion of any sentence served by Mr Abid, the consequences will resonate.

“… He is a haunted man, although it is almost incomparable to the suffering others have endured.”

Mr Hingston asked the judge to consider points he had raised in a sentencing note he had submitted to the court, but Judge Sylvia de Bertodano told him: “If you are going to suggest the fact the children went out into the road reduced his liability, you are going to have to say that.”

Mr Hingson said: “I can’t say it any higher than set out in the note. It is clear from the Crown’s case that Mr Abid took evasive action when the first group of pedestrians appeared.

“The evasive action he took unfortunately caused him to drive on the wrong side of the road.”

But Judge de Bertodano responded: “I don’t see that that affects his culpability at all.”

And jailing Abid, she told him: “This incident happened because you were driving much, much too fast.

“The older children came across first, and you swerved around them. But there is no mitigation in that. You would not have needed to swerve to avoid them if you had been driving at a normal speed.

“The result of that was the tragedy that every parent dreads, a little boy was killed, and his mother has made a moving statement to the court.

“I have no doubt you are sorry for what happened, but it would have been much, much better for you and for everyone else if you had demonstrated that sorrow earlier, rather than waiting until the very day of the trial.”

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