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10 October 2014, 13:37
A taxi driver was sentenced to three and a half years in jail for causing the death of a former member of Britain's Olympic Bobsleigh Team by dangerous driving.
Mohamoud Amin stopped his Ford Galaxy in the fast lane of the A1M at Hatfield in Herts, causing Rob Pope to smash his blue Yamaha sports motorbike into the back at sixty miles per hour.
The 44-year-old London firefighter, who was a member of the Olympic Bobsleigh Team at the 1994 Winter Olympics in Norway, died at the scene.
St Albans crown court heard that Mr Amin stopped his taxi on the southbound carriageway near the Hatfield tunnel after what was thought to be a stone smashed the front passenger window of his taxi. He said he was in a state of shock, put his hazard lights on, stopped and waited for the police.
Mr Pope, from Hitchin, who was travelling to work, struck the rear nearside of the silver Ford Galaxy, causing debris to fly into the road.
Amin, 38, of Huxley Gardens, Park Royal, London who worked as a private hire driver, pleaded not guilty to causing death by dangerous driving on Friday 22 March 2013, but was convicted by the jury.
The court heard Amin was born in Somalia and came to the UK in 2000, being granted citizenship in 2005. In 2006 he gained a UK driving licence. The father-of-four had no previous convictions. He had taken children to a school in Welwyn Garden City from Wembley and was returning with their escort when the accident happened at half past eight in the morning.
Giving evidence, he said that when the front passenger window smashed it was "like a big explosion." He said he was in a state of shock and stopped in the fast lane. He said there was a lot of traffic to his left and thought he had pulled over closer to the central barrier. In fact his vehicle was mainly in the outside lane.
Defence barrister Ross Cohen said: "That day was the worst day of his life. He has wanted to speak to Mrs Pope to express his profound apology and sorrow for what happened on that fateful morning." He said Amin had no points on his licence.
Judge Stephen Gullick told him: "Your action in stopping where you did inevitably placed other road users at considerable risk. Vehicles would have been driving towards you at speeds of up to 70 miles per hour. You created a significant hazard for oncoming traffic. Stopping where you did amounted to a seriously dangerous manoeuvre."
He said the Pope family had suffered a human tragedy from which they will never recover. The judge also banned Amin from driving for 4 years and said he must sit a retest before regaining his licence.
Rob Pope also played for Finchley Golf Club and was a member of the Shaftesbury Harriers. He had received a long service medal from the fire brigade, for his service at the Euston station.
At the time of his death, his wife Nicky said: "Rob was a wonderful husband and father to our six-year-old son.
"We shared many happy years together, including some memorable holidays, including going across the West of America on a Harley Davidson motorcycle which we thoroughly enjoyed.
"Rob was a joker and always saw the amusing side to life. He doted on our little boy and we will never forget him."
Judge Gullick told Amin: "It would have been apparent to you out of your front and side windows that you were a considerable distance from the central barrier, yet you did not seek to adjust your position in order to reduce the risk of collision. As I have already indicated, this was not a country road with occasional traffic travelling at 20, 30 or even 40mph. This was the outside lane of a two lane motorway, which was very familiar to you, where traffic was coming towards you at up to 70mph and possibly more. Your duty of care to other road users was, in those circumstances, that much greater and you singularly and spectacularly failed even to attempt to reduce the extent to which your vehicle obstructed the outside lane. Had you done so, the risk to other road users would, on the evidence, have been very significantly reduced."