2 Jul 2019

Drunk motorist who killed taxi driver jailed

1:01 pm on 2 July 2019

A drunk motorist who ran a red light, killing a taxi driver in Auckland's CBD, has been jailed for three years and eight months.

The scene of the crash on Symonds Street.

The scene of the crash on Symonds Street. Photo: www.snpa.co.nz

Farshad Bahadori Esfehani was behind the wheel of a Mercedes when he ran a red light on Symonds Street in the early hours of 23 December, 2017.

The 22-year-old smashed into the side of the Toyota Prius Abdul Raheem Fahad Syed was driving; killing the young father who had only recently moved to New Zealand for a better life.

Esfehani appeared before Justice Woolford in the High Court at Auckland for sentencing this morning after pleading guilty to excess breath alcohol causing death, dangerous driving causing death and failing to stop and ascertain injury.

Crown prosecutor Emma Smith told the court Mr Sayed was a hardworking man who was devoted to his son, who was just 5-months-old at the time of his death.

Now a toddler, Mr Syed's son sat on his wife's lap in the front row of the public gallery during this morning's sentencing hearing.

Auckland taxi driver Abdul Raheem Fahad Syed, who leaves behind a wife and baby.

Auckland taxi driver Abdul Raheem Fahad Syed, who leaves behind a wife and baby. Photo: Supplied

The court heard Esfehani sped through three red lights at about 4.30am between Waterloo Quadrant and the crash scene at the intersection of Alex Evans St and Symonds St.

He had just fled the Chancery Basement Carpark in the CBD after an altercation with security staff, who had called police.

The court heard he travelled at an average speed of 87km/h and hit Mr Sayed's car at 61km/h and 74km/h; shunting the Toyota Prius 10 metres sideways.

Esfehani did not make any attempts to call emergency services and Mr Syed died from severe blunt force trauma to his chest.

Justice Woolford said the defendant got out of his car after the crash and told members of the public 'Don't call the cops', 'Can you call me a taxi?'and 'I hope that guy has insurance'.

Esfehani had a breath alcohol reading of 908 micrograms of alcohol per litre of breath, more than three times the legal limit of 250 micrograms.

Farshad Bahadori Esfehani in court for sentencing.

Farshad Bahadori Esfehani in court for sentencing. Photo: RNZ / Anneke Smith

Ms Smith said there were a number of aggravating factors in the case and submitted a sentence of 5.5 years' imprisonment was appropriate.

Esfehani's defence lawyer Mark Ryan asked for a lesser sentence of 12 months' home detention and 200 hours of community work.

He told the court his client was 20-years-old at the time of the crash and submitted Esfehani's youth, lack of driving experience and the "volume of literature" that showed young male brains did not fully develop until 27-years-old went some way towards explaining his actions that night.

Mr Ryan said the now 22-year-old's genuine remorse was illustrated in a restorative justice conference held with Mr Syed's familly.

"He's going to carry this mistake with him like a millstone around his neck for the rest of his life. Nothing he does is going to bring back the victim."

A family support person read a victim impact statement written by Mr Syed's father, who visits his son's grave in India every day after prayers.

"It is very painful for me and my family. It's a sad demise of my beloved son who was a 29-year-old loving husband and caring father of a five month old at the time of his death.

"I go to my son's grave every single day after praying the mass. It's very painful and I ask Allah to give my son back if possible. After that I cry a lot as I miss my son."

He said Esfehani's failure to help Mr Syed had added to the family's grief and he had not forgiven the defendant for his "grave mistake".

"It was his moral duty to stay beside my son until emergency services arrived or, if possible, provide first aid but he preferred to escape from the scene."

Justice Woolford sentenced Esfehani to three years and eight months' imprisonment, disqualified him from holding or obtaining a driver's license for four years and ordered he pay $12,000 to Mr Syed's family.

Esfehani, who was supported by friends and family in court, shielded his face from cameras in court and bowed his head during most of the sentencing hearing.