A NOVICE driver who hit a long-standing Rotherham police officer as he crossed the road to his home has been found not guilty of causing his death by careless driving.
Waqas Khan (23) was acquitted today (Friday) following a two-day trial at Sheffield Crown Court.
Hassan Ali (42), a neighbourhood police officer who had 18 years’ service, was hit by Mr Khan's car, on January 28, 2015 – the same day he was placed on restricted duties by South Yorkshire Police due to an Inpendent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) investigation surrounding the Rotherham child abuse scandal.
The jury, who deliberated for more than five hours, was not told Mr Ali was a police officer or of any of the allegations surrounding him.
University of Sheffield student Mr Khan, of Balfour Road, Darnall, told the court of his horror at hitting Mr Ali, who he recognised as a “community elder” as he cradled his injured head.
Mr Khan, who passed his test six months prior to the crash, said he was driving his Vauxhall Corsa “cautiously” down Staniforth Road, Darnall, at around 20mph prior to the crash at 10.07pm because it was snowing.
Mr Ali, who was off-duty, had been eating at the Mirzas Spices restaurant with his nephew and friend Mohamed Yunis.
PC Hassan Ali
In a statement, Mr Yunis said that when they parted ways outside the restaurant they shared a “few words and a joke” before Mr Ali headed across the road to his home.
Mr Yunis said he then heard a sound and saw Mr Ali’s body in the air.
He ran over to the scene and exchanged some “unpleasant words” with Mr Khan, who replied: “Brother, calm down”, while Mr Ali’s nephew called 999.
Mr Yunis said: “He (Mr Khan) then realised Hassan was the uncle of his best friend and asked if it was Uncle Hassan.”
CCTV footage showed to the jury showed Mr Khan’s car initially driving in the correct position on Staniforth Road.
But as it approached nearer to where Mr Ali was crossing, his vehicle slowly drifted over to the other side of the carriageway.
Prosecutor, Mr Richard Thyne, said Mr Yunis and Mr Ali should have first been visible to the defendant as they walked between the two parked cars outside Mirzas.
Giving evidence on Thursday, Mr Khan said: “I positioned my car towards the centre line (of the carriageway) because there were parked cars; I didn’t see anything else.
“I then looked towards my right at the junction near the social club as I wanted to check no other cars were pulling out.
“Because of the harsh weather conditions, I thought I would be extra careful and check there were no other cars coming from that junction, so I looked at that junction for a few seconds – longer than I normally would in good weather conditions.”
But by this point, the CCTV footage showed, Mr Ali, who was wearing dark clothing and had his hood up, was on the centre line and looking ahead “as if he was talking to somebody”, according to eye-witness Mohammed Maboob.
Mr Khan added: “I was not aware of my position in the road because my focus was on the junction.
“The first time I became aware a pedestrian was there was when I made contact.
“He was just there in front of me.”
Mr Khan said he flung his door open after the collision, rushed over to the pedestrian and realised he knew the injured man.
A roadside breath test showed the accounting and financial management student had no alcohol in his system.
Mr Ali suffered a fractured skull, bleeding on the brain and a broken leg - he died in hospital on February 6.
The cause of death was irreversible major traumatic brain injury as a result of the collision, the court heard.
PC Andrew Burgoyne, SYP forensic collision investigator, said the cause of the collision was a combination of adverse weather conditions, the failure to see pedestrians on the carriageway and pedestrian’s failure to see the driver.
The IPCC said it was still investigating PC Ali, along with 53 other named police officers over their handling of CSE in Rotherham.
A spokesman for the watchdog said this week investigations were “extremely complex” and once concluded it would “consider how and when our findings will be published”.
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