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Friday, December 3, 2021

Qatari businessman involved in UK ‘reckless’ driving accident avoids jail time

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The 66-year-old victim was pronounced dead at the scene.

A Qatari businessman has avoided time in prison despite pleading guilty on Tuesday to killing a pedestrian in a car accident in London. 

Hassan Nasser Al Thani, 42, struck down Charles Roberts, 66, in August 2019 while driving a purple Rolls-Royce Wraith at a speed exceeding 80 kilometres per hour.

Roberts, a retired railway signalling manager from Hertfordshire, was pronounced dead at the scene near Buckingham Palace.

Al Thani pleaded guilty at the Old Bailey on Tuesday despite denying charges at earlier hearings.  

According to British media, he was handed an eight-month prison sentence, suspended for two years and ordered to pay £25,000. He also received a three-year driving ban in the UK. 

As per UK law, if an offender is given a custodial sentence of between 14 days and two years, or six months in the magistrates’ court, the judge may choose to suspend the sentence for up to two years.

This means the offender does not have to go to prison immediately but is given the chance to stay out of trouble and comply with up to 13 requirement set by the court.

These may include doing unpaid work, being subject to a curfew or undergoing rehabilitation activities.

According to Judge Richard Marks, Al Thani was driving near Hyde Park Corner accompanied by a friend when he lost control of the car as the traffic lights turned green.

He was reportedly driving at a speed of up to 54 miles per hour (86kph) in a 30mph zone –  almost twice the speed limit.

“I am entirely satisfied from the evidence that if you had been driving at or within the speed limit his death would have been avoided,” Judge Marks said.

“You were to tell the police – clearly incorrectly – that you had moved off slowly from the lights when suddenly, and without warning, someone ran out in front of your car. The evidence tells a very different story,” the judge said.

“Shortly prior to the impact, you were driving at a speed that was not far short of twice the legal limit and therein, in my judgment, lies the seriousness of this offence.”

According to the judge, the defendant saw Roberts “very late” and the obvious reason for the accident was that he was “simply not paying attention.”

Al-Thani was the registered owner of the Rolls Royce with Qatari number plates, though the vehicle has since been sold.

“As Mr Roberts crossed that road, he was hit by Mr Al-Thani’s car.

“Police arrived very shortly at the scene and diverted the traffic away, and Mr Al-Thani was approached by a police constable,” the prosecutor continued. 

The victim’s cause of death was detailed as traumatic head injury. Roberts lost consciousness almost immediately after the accident, McGhee told the court.

When the accident occurred, the defendant called 999 and informed police at the scene that he had not seen the pedestrian after traffic lights turned green.

“In a prepared statement given to police at the time, Al Thani expressed sadness at the death and offered his condolences to the victim’s family and friends,” a British media report noted.

A statement read on behalf of Roberts’ family expressed the devastation of the victim’s brother.

“It is a relief to him the driver responsible is to be held to account,” the family said.


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