20th Sep, 2019

Ollie Sellers’ family distraught as jury returns verdict in dangerous driving trial

Harry Leach 5th Apr, 2019 Updated: 6th Apr, 2019

For our report on Day 1 of the trial click here

For our report on Day 2 of the trial click here.

For our report on Day 3 of the trial click here

For our report on Day 4 of the trial click here

A LAST minute shake-up in the trial saw defendant Raeqa Liaqat found guilty of causing Ollie Seller’s death by ‘careless’ driving but not by ‘dangerous’ driving.

A dangerous driving verdict would have almost certainly resulted in a more severe punishment than the one Liaqat is likely to receive when she is sentenced on Friday, May 3.

However Judge Tindal made it perfectly clear the verdict delivered by the jury, in just over an hour, doesn’t mean Liaqat will avoid prison.

He said: “I want to prepare you Ms Liaqat for the possibility that we could decide to take you immediately into custody next month.”

In the dying moments of the trial Judge Tindal along with prosecutor Mr Whitfield and defence barrister Mr Gatley, decided to make an amendment to the indictment and let the jury vote, instead, on two separate charges.

The first option being Liaqat causing the death of Ollie Sellers by ‘careless’ driving – which means slightly below the standard expected for a competent driver.

The second option being Liaqat causing the death of Ollie Sellers by ‘dangerous’ driving – the original charge – which means far below the standard.

The jury found Liaqat guilty of careless driving but not guilty of dangerous driving despite her using her phone while behind the wheel.

Paul, Ollie’s father, said: “It just sends completely the wrong message to other people out there who may be driving dangerously.

“It’s a terrible result for us.

“Had the charges not been separated I think the jury would have found her guilty by dangerous driving.”

In the morning, defence solicitor Mr Gatley made his closing speech to the jury.

He told them: “The idea of Ms Liaqat fainting, something she has a previous history of, while driving cannot be discredited when you make your decision.

“Nor can the possibility of there being a mechanical failure in her car.

“We heard from several car experts this week but none of them could 100 per cent rule it out.

“Just because they didn’t find a defect in the wreckage doesn’t mean it wasn’t there.”

Judge Tindal finished Day 5 of the trial by thanking Ollie’s family for being ‘so respectful’ during their time in the public gallery.

“It has not been an easy week for you,” he said, “I want to thank you for the way in which you have carried yourselves.

“This is going to be a very complex sentencing because of the nature of the case.

“That’s why we are scheduling it for a later date because there’s no way we have time today.”

The sentence is currently listed as taking place at Hereford Crown Court next month.

Liaqat has been granted bail until that time and also banned from driving in the UK.

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