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3rd Jul, 2022

Death crash van driver tried to blame motorists he was overtaking for tragic smash

A VAN driver killed an innocent motorist by ploughing head-on into his car while overtaking a line of traffic on a bend after driving aggressively for some distance.

But astonishingly Mohammed Albannai denied his driving had been dangerous – and at Warwick Crown Court he tried to shift the blame onto the people he was overtaking.

Even though one of them had even touched her brake so he would stop tailgating her and slowed as he went past, he claimed they were at fault for not given him space to pull back in.

That was unanimously rejected by the jury who found him guilty of causing the death of John Ferris by driving dangerously on the A429 between Ettington and Halford in south Warwickshire.

Adjourning for a pre-sentence report to be prepared on the 46-year-old, of Mustang Way, Swindon, Judge Sylvia de Bertodano rejected an application for him to be granted bail.

Prosecutor Samantha Crabb said the crash took place as it was getting dark at 5.15pm on January 19 last year.

Albannai was driving his Mercedes Vito van south along the A429 from the direction of Warwick in what other motorists described as an aggressive manner.

Then, on a long bend where it was impossible for him to see whether the opposite side of the road was clear ahead of him, he pulled out to overtake two cars and a HGV.

“He could not possibly have been able to ascertain there was no oncoming traffic,” observed Miss Crabb.

“That driving had devastating consequences because he drove straight into the path of Mr Ferris who was driving his Ford Mondeo in the opposite direction.

“Mr Ferris was on the correct side of the road, and was confronted by the defendant’s van completely in his path, and the impact was full-on.

“Although the defendant was able to walk away from his vehicle, the consequences for Mr Ferris were fatal, and he was pronounced dead at the scene shortly afterwards.”

Albannai insisted his driving was not dangerous, but Miss Crabb argued that the evidence was overwhelming.

Albannai blamed other drivers for not allowing him back in after he had started overtaking, and suggested that they had been speeding up and slowing down to prevent him getting back in.

That was dismissed as “nonsense” by Miss Crabb.

She pointed out that HGV driver said that some distance earlier the van had overtaken him doing around 70mph on the approach to the roundabout on the A429 near Ettington.

After the roundabout, Albannai had come up behind another lorry, and the driver said he was aware of the Mercedes van pulling out and swinging back in, trying to overtake.

So he slowed down, and Albannai overtook him at speed and drove off into the distance before having to slow down behind a car which he began tailgating her in a way described by the driver as ‘intimidating,’ and she believed he was dangerously close, so she touched the brake to try to get him to back off.

About 15 seconds later, Albannai pulled out without indicating, and as he went past her car, she said she thought to herself: “This isn’t going to end well.”

The lorry driver Albannai was overtaking told the court he was aware of the Mercedes van alongside when he heard a loud bang and looked in his mirror and saw the rear of Mr Ferris’s car going up in the air.

Following the jury’s verdict, Miss Crabb submitted it was ‘seriously culpable behaviour’ because of the extended period of aggressive driving and persistent attempts to overtake.

Judge de Bertodano said she considered it to be in the most serious category of death by dangerous driving, with a ‘starting point’ of eight years, although David Jones, defending, argued it was in a lower category.

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