Family tell of their grief for Bilal as killer driver is jailed for seven years

Jailed driver Zain Khan

Bilak Khizar

First published in Bradford
Last updated

A devastated family told how they shed tears “every second of every day” for a 12-year-old boy mown down and killed by a driver trying to flee police in Bradford .

Zain Khan, who was behind the wheel of a powerful Seat, was yesterday jailed for seven and a half years for causing the death by dangerous driving of Bilal Khizar, who had been making his way home from a friend’s house last October.

Khan, 21, sped off after being pulled over by police in Rooley Lane because his passenger and then-girlfriend, Sara Marie Hughes, also 21, had been smoking cannabis, Bradford Crown Court heard.

Speaking outside the court yesterday after Khan was sentenced, Bilal’s aunt Nuzhat Yousaf, flanked by his mum Muzerat and dad Razzaque, told of the family’s enduring grief.

Fighting, sometimes unsuccessfully, to hold back tears, and with her voice cracking Mrs Yousaf said: “We mourn and weep for Bilal every second of every day and would give anything to have him back. He was one in a million.

“Bilal had such a beautiful smile that would light up a room and his zest for life was infectious.

“No parent, brother or sister should feel the needless pain and suffering we have endured.

“It is a day-to-day struggle and these people need to realise how their actions have left this family completely devastated and shattered.”

At Khan’s sentencing hearing the Court was told that after ploughing into Bilal, Khan had “roared” off, reaching speeds of more than 100 miles per hour and hitting another vehicle, before abandoning the car and calling the police to falsely claim it had been stolen earlier that day.

Sentencing him, Judge Jonathan Durham Hall QC said: “The young man suffered catastrophic injuries and died instantly.

“Did you stop? No. You raced on, knowing that you had inevitably caused the most serious damage to another human being.

“Did you give any consideration to that young man? No.

“Did you or your passenger call an ambulance? No.”

Bilal’s family sobbed as prosecutor Jonathan Sharp described the events of that evening.

Bilal had been making his way home from a friend’s house shortly before 7pm.

Mr Sharp said: “He had a little scooter with him, and he made his way, no doubt making use of the scooter, to the crossing of the A6177 at Rooley Lane, close to Asda.”

Mr Sharp said Khan was driving his “very powerful” Seat Bocanegra.

He said police on patrol noticed Khan overtaking at speed and pulled him over, but after only a few seconds, Khan drove off.

Mr Sharp said: “This, it seems, was because Hughes was smoking a cannabis cigarette. He then pulled out at great speed – in the officers’ words, he seemed ‘to accelerate as fast as the vehicle was able to do’ and they, in their normal patrol car, were unable to keep pace with him.”

After travelling only 400 yards Khan’s car hit Bilal, as he was crossing the road at a junction. Mr Sharp said the car had reached between 74 and 84 miles per hour and the young boy was killed instantly.

He said: “If Khan had been driving at or near to the speed limit he would have had ample time to see Bilal crossing and, if necessary, to stop. However, at the speed he was doing and being intent on evading the police as he was, he did not see him in time.”

Bilal’s family left the court for a short while as CCTV footage of the tragic collision was played.

The court heard that despite having a smashed windscreen, Khan sped away down the M606, colliding with another motorist driving an Audi A4 at the Chain Bar roundabout and reaching speeds of up to 106 miles per hour on the A58.

He and Hughes then “agreed a lie” that the car had been stolen earlier that day, and the court was played a recording of a call Khan made to police, falsely claiming his car had been taken.

Khan “persisted in the arranged lie” when questioned by police, Mr Sharp said, until he heard Hughes had made a full admission, at which point he admitted to police that he had hit Bilal and claimed he had panicked.

Khan, of Savile Park, Halifax, pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to dangerous driving, causing death by dangerous driving and perverting the course of justice.

A separate charge, of driving without insurance, was dropped by the prosecution.

Judge Durham Hall sentenced Khan to seven and a half years in prison for causing death by dangerous driving, 18 months for perverting the course of justice and 12 months for dangerous driving, to run concurrently.

He said: “There’s nothing I can do to bring back Bilal and no punishment that I can impose as a judge that can ever satisfy the outrage and anger and, I rather suspect, the deep grief of the victim’s family.”

He had arrived at this sentence after giving Khan 25 per cent off in recognition for his guilty pleas.

Khan was also banned from driving for five years and must take an extended test before he can regain his licence.

Judge Durham Hall said the police officers had been completely blameless in the tragedy.

He said: “May I say absolutely clearly, there is nothing in the actions of the two police officers who stopped you and who had to try and keep up with you when you roared off which can in any way be criticised.”

Mitigating for Khan, Simon Csoka QC said Khan was suffering from flashbacks of the incident.

He said: “He is appalled at how he behaved. He is appalled at the cowardly way he drove off at speed and had another accident.”

Mr Csoka said Khan had “seriously considered” writing a letter of apology to Bilal’s family, but had not wanted to intrude on their grief.

Hughes, 21, formerly of King Cross Road, Halifax, has previously pleaded guilty to perverting the course of justice. She was released on conditional bail and will next appear in court on March 7.

Outside court, the senior investigating officer, Detective Superintendent Mark Ridley, said: “Khan’s reckless actions while behind the wheel took the life of a young boy, devastating a family, a school and a community.

“Our thoughts remain with Bilal’s family and I hope today’s sentence provides them with some closure for what must have been an extremely emotional and difficult period.”

Councillor Naveeda Ikram (Lab, Little Horton), a former Lord Mayor of Bradford, who has supported Bilal’s family, said: “I am pleased that justice has been done. Over the last few months my thoughts have been with the family. They have been through so much trauma and stress.

“They have been very brave as a family and stayed together.”

Coun Ikram also pleaded with drivers to obey the law of the road, saying: “A young life has been lost. It should be a wake-up call for people.

“It could be anyone’s child. A message needs to go out that an innocent life has been lost in this way.

“Drivers need to think about their responsibilities.”

And Councillor Sher Khan (Lab, Little Horton), who has also helped the family, said Khan should have been jailed for longer. He said: “I would say it should be ten years or 14 years. We lost a very precious guy.”

Bradford Academy, where Bilal was a pupil, issued a statement which said: “The tragic loss of one of our students will never be recompensed by any sentence passed in court. This tragedy will remain in the memories of the school community for years to come.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with Bilal’s family and friends today who have had to deal with the unimaginable consequences of one person’s reckless actions.”

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