Businessman guilty of causing drive death

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A businessman has been found guilty of causing the death of a much loved former teacher in a horror car smash two years ago.

Faisal Ali was driving at 70mph and on the wrong side of the road in his brand new Mercedes Benz when he ploughed into Leslie Anthony Barrett’s Vauxhall Vectra on a dangerous stretch of the A171 Whitby-to-Guisborough road.

Ali was on the wrong side of the road and just about to go over a small blind hill in the road when the collision occurred near Ayton Low Moor.

Mr Barrett (65), known to friends as ‘Tony’, was returning from band practice in Castleton to his home in Whitby when the accident occurred at about 9.20pm on September 8, 2013. He suffered fatal injuries and was pronounced dead at the scene.

Ali was returning from a trip to Whitby with his wife when tragedy struck not long since they had enjoyed a meal at Robinson’s fish-and-chip restaurant.

Ali was taken to hospital with multiple serious injuries including a shattered knee and internal bleeding. His right leg and kneecap had been snapped in half and he had to be kept in the hospital’s trauma ward for about three weeks. He was later arrested and charged with causing death by dangerous driving.

Ali - still seriously debilitated by his injuries - appeared at York Crown Court for trial this week after pleading not guilty to the charge. He hobbled into court on crutches and had to be helped into the dock by a friend as family members looked on from the public gallery.

Prosecutor Sophie Drake said prior to the crash, Ali, of Oxford Road, Middlesborough, had been tailgating a Volkswagen Polo driven by eye witness Steven Hicks, before overtaking it as Mr Barrett’s car approached in the opposite direction.

Ali, who runs a store business in Middlesborough, claimed he had little recollection of the incident and could only remember a car suddenly looming in front of him.

He said he blacked out after the crash and woke up in a hospital bed. He even told police it was Mr Barrett’s car which had been on his side of the road. But a police accident investigation revealed tyre marks from both vehicles could clearly be seen in the Whitby-bound lane which Mr Barrett had been travelling in, showing that Ali was on the wrong side.

Ms Drake said Ali overtook despite signs warning of a hidden brow and centre white lines prohibiting overtaking. He accelerated near the junction with the B1266 Sandsend Road, by which time another motorist had pulled onto the A171 in front of Mr Hicks.

“He (Ali) got past, or almost past, Mr Hicks’s vehicle and Mr Hicks slowed down to allow the defendant to pull in, but he didn’t have time to do that and collided with Mr Barrett’s car,” added Ms Drake.

She said although Ali was a hard-working family man who ran his own business, he had made a “bad decision, a dangerous decision to overtake when he shouldn’t have done”.

Defence barrister Adrian Waterman QC claimed Ali - on pain-relief medication since the crash -veered over the centre white lines during “a moment of inattention”.

He added that Ali had a clean driving licence and no previous convictions, but the jury were unanimous in finding Ali guilty of dangerous driving.

Judge Guy Kearl QC adjourned sentence for probation and medical reports until April 8.