LONDON(TIP): An Indian-origin man has been sentenced to six years of imprisonment for the death of two women in a road accident in northern England in 2016. He was checking his mobile while driving.
The 26-year-old youth has also been banned from driving for nine years.
Mohmed Patel was checking his mobile phone and did not see Shelby Maher, 17, and Rachel Murphy, 23, as they crossed the road in Preston, Lancashire, in April 2016.
While Rachel Murphy died on the spot after being hit by Patel’s BMW, Shelby Maher died in a hospital later.
Another teenage girl in a group of five crossing the road was also seriously injured in the mishap. She was in hospital for a week.
Patel was sentenced to six-year imprisonment by the Preston Crown Court on August 7, which concluded that his distraction while driving had resulted in the crash.
“No text was so urgent that it was worth the life of these two young women. It is clear the defendant failed to see any of those people in the road,” Judge Altham said after being told that Patel’s phone revealed he had sent two text messages to his girlfriend around the time of the crash asking her whereabouts.
The court was told that 42 seconds after he sent the text, he was calling the 999-emergency number from the crash scene.
Patel claimed that he had sent text to his partner while stopped at a nearby set of traffic lights and then replaced the phone in the glove compartment. But another motorist told the court that the accused had overtaken him shortly before the crash and he had seen Patel holding a mobile phone in his hand as he rested it on the steering wheel.
“This was plainly an avoidable distraction. So distracted was he that at the point of collision he may as well have been driving with his eyes closed,” the judge said.
He also noted that Patel had shown “no significant remorse” but rather “sadness for the predicament he now finds himself in” and jailed him for two counts of causing death by dangerous driving.
Patel had admitted that his driving, while taking his mother and sister on a shopping trip, was careless, but denied the more serious charge of dangerous driving.
“I do accept I should have seen the pedestrians in the road. I don’t know why I didn’t see them. But it was not because of my mobile phone,” Patel had told the court.
Meanwhile, the victims’ families said they were disappointed with the length of sentence.
Shelby’s mother Melanie Maher said: “He has ruined all our lives, my child’s life, I’m never going to see my daughter again because of him and I hate him.”