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HMA v Ali Zafar


Oct 20, 2023

At the High Court in Edinburgh Judge McCormick sentenced Ali Zafar to four years imprisonment after the offender pled guilty to causing death by dangerous driving.

On sentencing Judge John N McCormick made the following remarks in court:

"Ali Zafar you were 17 years old and held a provisional driving licence when, on the night of 1 October 2021, you asked to borrow the keys to a Ford Mondeo motor vehicle.  Those keys were handed to you on the basis that you did not move the car. 

However, shortly before 2300 hours you drove the vehicle accompanied by a passenger.  You travelled along Paisley Road West before completing a U-turn so as to enter Morrisons car park. 

In terms of the agreed narration, you drove the Ford Mondeo in the car park at an average speed of 32 mph immediately following the collision.  You said to your passenger that you had “just hit a guy”.  I shall not outline the various injuries which were caused by the collision.  Those are graphic.

It is sufficient for me to record that as a consequence of his injuries Mr Derek Blackshaw died.

Mr Blackshaw was 46 years old at the time of his death and had been employed as a project manager.  He lived with his wife of 21 years and their three children.  I have read the victim impact statements from Mr Blackshaw’s wife, daughters, mother, his sister and his brothers. The victim impact statements reflect the violent and wholly unnecessary manner in which Mr Blackshaw lost his life and the impact his demise has had on his family.  They are bereft.  Their lives are devastated. The wider community have been deprived of a respected rugby coach.  No sentence which this court can impose will reflect the loss or their grief.

When considering the appropriate sentence I have had regard to the similar cases involving young people, the Scottish Sentencing Council guidelines on the sentencing of young people and to the terms of the sentencing guidelines of England and Wales in relation to road traffic offences.

The aggravating factors here include that the death of a pedestrian resulted, that you took the vehicle without permission, that your vision was impaired by condensation on your windscreen, that you were driving at speed at night in a car park, that you had not passed your driving test and that, having realised that you had run over a pedestrian, you failed to stop or immediately alert the authorities.  That is something that you will have to live with. 

Having regard to the gravity and consequences of the charge there is no alternative other than a substantial custodial sentence.  It is necessary to punish you, to seek to deter you and others from driving in such a dangerous manner and to protect the public. 

Mitigating factors include that you have pled guilty using the section 76 procedure, that you were aged 17 at the time (aged 19 currently), that you have no other convictions, that you are assessed as representing a minimum risk of reconviction along with the factors mentioned within section 8 of the Criminal Justice Social Work Report.

I repeat that no sentence which this court will impose can reflect the tragic circumstances of this case.  Taking full account of the circumstances here, the terms of the criminal justice social work report, your age and all that counsel has said in mitigation, I would have imposed a custodial sentence of six years which I shall reduce to four years in recognition of the plea. The sentence of four years is backdated to 21 September 2023 being the date on which you were first remanded in custody.

A proportionate period of disqualification to include your time in custody must be determined. You will be disqualified from holding or obtaining a driving licence for a period of eight years and you must then pass an extended driving test.  Your licence is endorsed accordingly."