"That man's going to kill someone."
Raheel Mohammed, aged 21, of Aston, Birmingham, was jailed after he caused a horror crash. The speeding driver left a woman with severe brain damage as he “showed off” in a Mercedes.
He will serve just a year in prison and the judge admitted that some would see his sentence as a “travesty”.
Mohammed had been doing at least 70mph before he lost control of the car and collided with university researcher Alice Manzini in Birmingham city centre.
Birmingham Crown Court heard the incident happened on September 4, 2019.
Alison Scott-Jones, prosecuting, said Mohammed had driven his girlfriend home in the Mercedes the night before even though her sister, the vehicle’s owner, had not consented to him using it.
The next day, Mohammed picked his friend up and drove him to work.
Ms Scott-Jones said: “He drove the long route to maximise the amount of time he had driving a lovely car.”
One driver waiting at the Bond Street junction saw Mohammed speed past at around 90mph and said:
“That man’s going to kill someone.”
Another driver pulled out of Howard Street to see the Mercedes “baring down on him” at around 70 to 80mph.
Ms Scott-Jones stated: “He was in fear he was going to be hit.
“The next thing he knew the car swerved and tried to pull around him but hadn’t the ability to pull around and stop and went around to the kerb, mounted the pavement, hit a signpost and ploughed into Alice Manzini, who was walking along the pavement with her shopping.”
A member of the public witnessed two men get out of the car, “straighten their suits and begin to walk away from the woman on the ground”, prompting him to detain them until police arrived.
Mohammed had been travelling between 70 to 73mph along Constitution Hill, which has a 30mph speed limit, and around 50mph when he smashed into Ms Manzini.
Ms Manzini had been on her way to work at the University of Birmingham as a Marie Curie researcher, having previously worked for the European Parliament in Brussels.
She suffered “life-changing, catastrophic injuries”, including brain damage, a fractured face, legs, arms and spine.
She was placed in intensive care for several weeks, had surgery and has now moved back to her native Italy but left entirely bed-bound and unable to speak.
Ms Scott-Jones read family statements which said Ms Manzini “fought like a lioness” for her life after the incident. She also described her as “brilliant, lovely, full of life and love for everybody” and the “heartbeat of her family”.
Mohammed pleaded guilty to causing serious injury by dangerous driving.
Jennifer Josephs, defending, said: “His driving demonstrates a level of immaturity. There is some growing up to do. He realises the devastating consequences of his actions. It is something he will of course live with.”
Judge Martin Hurst said:
“It’s fair to say there’s no more severe injuries that could have occurred in a case of this sort.”
He ignored Mohammed’s initial claims that anxiety caused his legs to seize up and he had been late for work by pointing out he “went the long way to show off the car”.
Judge Hurst told him: “You are a young, inexperienced, unqualified driver in a powerful car unappreciative of the rules of the road and the speed limits, driving extremely dangerously.”
The sentence was reduced from three years to two because of Mohammed’s guilty plea but said he would be “failing my public duty” if he suspended it.
Judge Hurst added: “The sentence I impose is one of two years. You will serve up to half of that before release on licence.
“For the pain this family and Alice Manzini has suffered you will serve just one year. Many may say that is a travesty but I will comment no further on it.”
Mohammed was also banned from driving for six years.
His girlfriend Aaminah Hussain, aged 22, from Acocks Green, was found not guilty of aiding and abetting in relation to letting Mohammed drive her sister’s car without consent.