Bradford drivers whose 80mph race led to cyclist's death each jailed for four years

Court hears how cyclist died as motorists sought to determine which of their cars was quicker

by Simon_MacMichael   January 8, 2013  

Justice (Lonpicman, Wikimedia Commons)

Two motorists whose high-speed race through Bradford at speeds of up to 80 miles an hour led to the death of a cyclist in September 2011 have each been jailed for four years at Bradford Crown Court.

Vitalijs Rozenbergs, originally from Latvia, had been riding to work on a night shift at an abattoir in Leeds when he was struck by an Audi RS3 driven by Mohammed Khan, aged 25, at 1.45am on the morning of 16 September 2011, reports Asianimage.co.uk.

Khan had been racing Shajah Rehman, aged 31, driving a Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG, as the pair sought to determine which car was quicker, with the cars travelling at twice the speed limit on Canal Road when the fatal collision took place.

Both motorists pleaded guilty to causing death by dangerous driving, with Khan, who like Rehman and the victim lived in Bradford, also admitting the charge of driving while uninsured.

The collision, which CCTV footage revealed happened as the cars were racing side by side, resulted in Mr Rozenbergs being thrown 15 metres.

The court was told that he was wearing headphones and his bike was not equipped with lights, although it did have reflectors, but street lighting was good.

As Khan sought to avoid hitting the cyclist, his car hit Rehman’s Mercedes, which ran into the central reservation. Khan stayed at the scene to await the arrival of the emergency services, while Rehman fled but turned himself in the following day.

The court heard that automatic number plate recognition cameras revealed that earlier that evening, Khan had covered the 223 miles from Cardiff to Bradford at an average speed of 85 miles an hour.

Sentencing the pair, Judge Peter Benson said: “Racing is a seriously aggravating feature of this type of offence.”

He added: “As Mr Rozenbergs was cycling across you two were driving down racing each other and as a result you Mohammed Khan struck Mr Rozenbergs while he was on his bike throwing him into the air and causing catastrophic injuries from which he would have died almost immediately,”

Both were also banned from driving for four years, to be served after the end of their prison terms.

Following sentencing, Sergeant Garry Alderson from West Yorkshire Police’s Major Collision Enquiry Team commented: “For a few moments of thrill seeking, these two men have found themselves with a lifetime of regret, alongside a significant custodial sentence.

“Racing on West Yorkshire's roads is extremely dangerous and will not be tolerated. The consequences of which can end lives and ruin many more, as we have witnessed in this particular case.”

31 user comments

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*four* years... pitiful.

posted by andyp [860 posts]
8th January 2013 - 11:46

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posted by neildmoss [188 posts]
8th January 2013 - 11:51

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At least the driving bans commence *after* their release.

Last night I would have considered trading a very loud baby for a really nice bike.

posted by notfastenough [3083 posts]
8th January 2013 - 11:54

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That's the law nowadays, changed following a campaign by Jan Woodward and Brake.

http://www.brake.org.uk/facts/success-for-the-woodward-familys-campaign-...

The fact it took until 2009 to get that done though reall;y does make you wonder...

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posted by Simon_MacMichael [8008 posts]
8th January 2013 - 12:04

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Looking objectively, the custodial sentence seems OK. What I can't understand is why we should allow these people to ever drive again.

Is there latitude in law for lifetime driving bans?

posted by benb [46 posts]
8th January 2013 - 12:06

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I must admit I read the headline and immediately thought four years! is that all. Then I read the rest of the article to see that the victim had no lights on, so whilst I do feel sorry for him some of me thinks if he had lights on it may not have happened, as it states Mr. Khan hit the other vehicle in an attempt to avoid the cyclist if he had seen him earlier he might have been able to brake and not hit anybody.

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posted by FATBEGGARONABIKE [583 posts]
8th January 2013 - 12:11

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removing these drivers given right to drive for 4 years is a disgrace….how are they expected to take there sick grandmothers to hospital

should be banned for driving for life. simple.

posted by mrchrispy [285 posts]
8th January 2013 - 12:12

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48 months for killing a cyclist.
30 months for nicking bikes in Sussex (see earlier story).

I'm a human being, God damn it! My life has value. I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore.

posted by Carl [134 posts]
8th January 2013 - 12:43

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I can’t see the relevance of wearing headphones in this instance, not that I do, do they make you less visible or is it the cyclists’ responsibility to be able to hear and therefore get out of the way of a pair of numpties racing on a public highway? Regarding the lights issue I would like to think it might have made a difference but the whole thing is a bit sad really. I agree with the life time ban thing though as it might make people think before they acted as irresponsibly as these two have.

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posted by cidermart [460 posts]
8th January 2013 - 12:44

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FATBEGGARONABIKE wrote:
I must admit I read the headline and immediately thought four years! is that all. Then I read the rest of the article to see that the victim had no lights on, so whilst I do feel sorry for him some of me thinks if he had lights on it may not have happened, as it states Mr. Khan hit the other vehicle in an attempt to avoid the cyclist if he had seen him earlier he might have been able to brake and not hit anybody.

Or you know, if they haven't been doing twice the speed limit and racing side by side then "he might have been able to brake and not hit anybody".

posted by Shanghaied [41 posts]
8th January 2013 - 12:50

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Carl wrote:
48 months for killing a cyclist.
30 months for nicking bikes in Sussex (see earlier story).

Sadly, from my understanding of our justice system, if they had earned money from the killing of a cyclist then they might have got a longer sentence or is that a bit too cynical?

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posted by cidermart [460 posts]
8th January 2013 - 12:50

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'I can’t see the relevance of wearing headphones in this instance'

or ever, in fact.

posted by andyp [860 posts]
8th January 2013 - 12:55

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Fair one 'Andyp'

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posted by cidermart [460 posts]
8th January 2013 - 13:01

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If he had lights on would one of them have thought I must drop back and give him more room, no!

Four years is pathetic for a couple of choppers who knew what their actions could do.

posted by georgee [137 posts]
8th January 2013 - 13:18

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While I don't wish to get into an argument about headphones, I do recall from self-defence training a lot of discussions about impairment of the senses. You should be able to walk down the street wearing headphones without the possibility of being bashed over the head from behind by someone you didn't hear, but other people (see article) can be arseholes, and it's wise to have a backup plan (such as being able to hear them beforehand). Not to say it would have changed the outcome in this situation though.

Last night I would have considered trading a very loud baby for a really nice bike.

posted by notfastenough [3083 posts]
8th January 2013 - 13:18

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if they needed the excitement or to experience the full
potential of their lethal weapons - a track day ??? but
no, lets just put everyone else's life in danger and
be complete prats.

driving is a privilege NOT a right - they should never
get their licenses back (as if that stops some !!)

still on the 3rd switch-back of Bwlch !

posted by therevokid [698 posts]
8th January 2013 - 13:23

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You have to question whether someone who drives a high performance car at twice the legal limit without insurance should deserve to drive again. How could anyone be more stupid?

As for the lights on the bike, that's sadly typical of people on lower incomes who cycle out of necessity rather than choice and tend not to be aware of the risks. It's progress that these two hooligans weren't let off because poor Mr Rozenbergs was blamed for not having lights.

posted by Campag_10 [153 posts]
8th January 2013 - 13:47

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The cyclist was also crossing the road, not cycling along it. Could easily have been a (legally unlit) pedestrian crossing the road instead.

posted by ribena [135 posts]
8th January 2013 - 13:50

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Two points:

1, So, four years. That means out in two, right? Here's a suggestion for a degree thesis by a student who rides bikes: find out who the judge was, do the same for other incidents, and compile a "price of a life" index for the judiciary, correlated with age / gender / any other available data. It should make fascinating reading - with this joker coming in at a bargain-basement two years - and I'd like to see it in the public domain.

2. piously commencing the driving ban once they emerge from jail means only that it is actually a ban, as having the ban running concurrently with their jail term would of course be a meaningless non-ban. However, much more important is this: how seriously does anyone think that the driver who killed the cyclist will be taking this so-called 'ban' when he emerges, as said driver has already demonstrated a willingness to drive without insurance?

posted by airborneyellow [7 posts]
8th January 2013 - 13:54

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Well, she was wearing a short skirt and showing a bit of cleavage, she must have been gagging for it....

Sorry, my mistake I got my victim blaming lunacies mixed up for a second there.

posted by farrell [1395 posts]
8th January 2013 - 13:58

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I had the misfortune to hit a pedestrian once in a car. I was only going 25mph, so fortunately just a broken ankle. He had run out at speed from behind a minibus, but I was completely liable regardless.
The law should change to do the same for cyclists. The fact he was wearing headphones and with no lights is exactly why speed limits are what they are. So that when accidents (read unforeseen circumstances) happen you have time to take evasive action and hopefully avoid collisions.

posted by roly [43 posts]
8th January 2013 - 14:59

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ribena wrote:
The cyclist was also crossing the road, not cycling along it. Could easily have been a (legally unlit) pedestrian crossing the road instead.

Exactly. If you're going too fast to stop in the event of an unexpected pedestrian or animal, neither of which we expect to be lit, then you are going too fast, period.

Whatever happened to driving for the conditions? I don't do 20mph across unlit commons on my bike either. If nothing else because I'd probably lose against a cow.

Bloody cows. Never wear their hi-vis either.

posted by HKCambridge [128 posts]
8th January 2013 - 15:55

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I know Canal Road well and have no idea where exactly it was, but as it says, lighting was good - it's a main road into/out of Bradford and is pretty damned wide. At 80mph, lights on the bike would have made little difference to when they saw him and the time they had to react. A paltry four years for this is rather short. If they were this negligent - i.e. reckless as to the safety of others - if their actions were out of a car, they would at the least have faced manslaughter and a much heavier sentence given the severity of the recklessness.

posted by Paul99 [17 posts]
8th January 2013 - 18:15

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When you drive at 80mph, the car becomes a weapon technically. So you hit someone with this weapon and kill them, that's manslaughter at the very least.

posted by stevebull-01 [61 posts]
8th January 2013 - 19:38

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From what some people have commented on here I think I shall have to make my point a little clearer.

1/ If the cyclist had had lights on the judge might have been able to give a more realistic (some will say harsher) sentence.. ie life seeing as they killed somebody

2/ I most certainly do not condone either of the drivers actions. Nor am I making excuses for them.

3/ I believe the drivers should not be allowed back on the road ever again.

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posted by FATBEGGARONABIKE [583 posts]
8th January 2013 - 21:15

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As others have said, the likelihood of a driving ban deterring someone from driving when they are already racing on public roads without insurance is small.

Canal Road is a well lit road. Especially the bits with a central reservation. If the cyclist had had lights it would have made no difference.

posted by Matthewjb [53 posts]
8th January 2013 - 22:45

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i guess one question is - would the sentences have been longer had the person who was killed been a pedestrian?
It seems to me that riding a bike means that somehow you are entering into a deal which reduces your rights

If you take out the stupidity of the racing then from my experience of the leeds/bradford borders - i worked there for some time including late into the night - then unlit cyclists particularly around industrial areas and connecting main roads are not uncommon and just part of the "normal" hazards, a responsible driver would be looking for them - a very sad death

on the sentence issue in general - for the judge this was easy as anyone can see that racing and driving without insurance is no go - a serious problem with sentencing is the "normal driving" by "people like us" and by professional drivers - especially concerned on the last - as these drivers should be (and probably are) aware of the risk to others that a particular manoeuvre entails but the law seems to deal with it as if were a mistake and just one of those things

posted by antigee [148 posts]
9th January 2013 - 6:44

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FATBEGGARONABIKE wrote:
1/ If the cyclist had had lights on the judge might have been able to give a more realistic (some will say harsher) sentence.. ie life seeing as they killed somebody

Nope. Maximum sentence for death by dangerous driving is 14 years. AFAICR it's the only way of killing someone without any risk of getting a life sentence.

That said, I'm personally only bothered by the lack of a lifetime ban, not a lack of custody.

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posted by Bez [371 posts]
9th January 2013 - 10:34

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farrell wrote:
Well, she was wearing a short skirt and showing a bit of cleavage, she must have been gagging for it....

Sorry, my mistake I got my victim blaming lunacies mixed up for a second there.

Big Grin

no defence/consolation and appalling all round, but, they did front it though, unlike others who drive off and then when caught plead not guilty

lifes goal is not to arrive at the grave in a perfectly preserved body, but to skid in sideways yelling "yeah what a ride!"

posted by wheelsucker [43 posts]
9th January 2013 - 20:38

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If I was messing about with my shotgun and killed someone I'd be in for manslaughter. Why should a car be anything different?

Not so much a six pack as a barrel!

posted by Bigfoz [62 posts]
9th January 2013 - 22:09

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