A driver and his passenger have both been convicted of causing the death of a pensioner after they smashed head-on into another car while going the wrong way down a dual carriageway.
Sagar Taseem and Naqash Hussain had both denied causing the death of 80-year-old Elizabeth Roberts by dangerous driving, claiming they were being chased and feared for their safety.
But after deliberating for over five hours, the jury at Warwick Crown Court rejected their version of the tragic events which unfolded on the B4451 near Gaydon in February 2017.
The jury had heard that in fact it was Taseem (26) of Evenlode, Banbury, driving a BMW, and his passenger Hussain (29) of Prescott Avenue, Banbury, who had been chasing a Ford Fiesta.
That was being driven by Kieran Flint (21) of Barley Hill, Banbury, who was also in the dock, having denied a charge of dangerous driving over his actions earlier in the incident.
But despite him conceding when questioned by the judge that his driving had been dangerous, the jury convicted him of the alternative offence of careless driving.
With only a financial penalty available for that offence, he was fined £500 and had six points endorsed on his licence.
The jury had heard that Flint had picked up his girlfriend after she finished work, and was driving back to his home when the BMW driven by Taseem began pursuing them.
He sped off, followed by the BMW, and there was a nine-mile chase north from Banbury along the B4100, during which he phoned a friend, Samuel Franklin, for help.
Flint then stopped in the middle of the road as Franklin, travelling in the opposite direction in his VW Jetta, stopped alongside, forcing the BMW to stop.
Taseem drove into the back of Flint’s Fiesta and then forced his way past before speeding off.
As Flint stopped for petrol, the BMW and the Jetta were then involved in a pursuit during which they went through a red light to turn right onto the B4511 dual carriageway.
It was there that Franklin (24) of Warkworth Close, Banbury, rammed the back of the BMW, after which Taseem sped the wrong way back down the dual carriageway.
Meanwhile Mrs Roberts had been collected from her home by her daughter Sheila Wilson, and they were heading towards the M40 on their way back to Mrs Wilson’s home in Warwick.
There was nothing Mrs Wilson, whose Fiesta had already been overtaken by the two cars, could do to avoid a head-on smash as the BMW came hurtling back towards her in the wrong direction, and her mother suffered fatal injuries in the crash.
Following the jury’s verdicts, sentencing of Taseem and Hussain was adjourned until Tuesday for them to be joined in the dock by Franklin who, although he was not involved in the actual crash, has admitted causing death by dangerous driving.
Hussain had already been remanded in custody, and Judge Sylvia de Bertodano rejected an application for Taseem to be granted bail overnight.
She commented: “The family of the deceased have waited quite long enough. I am not taking the slightest risk that they will have to wait even a day longer.”
Addressing Flint’s barrister Anthony Cartin, the judge remarked: “The problem your client created in this was calling in his friend, but that’s not careless driving.
“It was a very bad decision, but he could not possibly have known how bad it was. His culpability was that he didn’t call the police, he called his friend instead.”
Fining Flint, Judge de Bertodano told him: “The jury have found you guilty of careless driving, very fortunately for you, rather than dangerous driving.
“They found you were not under duress at the time, but it is clear this was a chase that was not started by you.
“Your fault in it was to make the very, very bad decision not to call the police but to call your friend. You were 19 at the time, and I accept you would not do that now.”
And she remarked: “It would have helped if someone had told us what this was all about.”