A “loving family man” whose three-year-old son died in a crash as he raced another car along a motorway at speeds in excess of 100mph has been jailed for four and a half years.
Israr Muhammed, 41, from Batley, lost control of his 16-year-old Honda Civic as he and another driver, Adam Molloy, of Normanton, drove “like idiots” in the outside lane of the M62 in East Yorkshire in July 2018.
Muhammed’s son, Say Han Ali, suffered catastrophic head injuries after the car spun across all three lanes of the motorway and hit a tree on an embankment.
His wife Safeena Ali and daughter, who was 11 at the time, also suffered serious injuries.
Sentencing Muhammed and 29-year-old Molloy at Hull Crown Court, Judge David Tremberg said Muhammed had been seen driving “in an erratic and unsafe manner” for many miles before the accident, failing to give way at a roundabout and weaving in and out of traffic.
He said Muhammed claimed Molloy – who worked as an HGV driver – began “tailgating” him.
Judge Tremberg said: “Expert assessment of the footage reveals that each of you was travelling in excess of 100mph and there were roughly 10 metres between your cars as you sped along.
“Other drivers formed the impression that you were racing and driving like idiots.
“I’m satisfied that you, Israr Muhammed, had a whole array of safe choices you could have made to avoid rising to the bait.
“Nobody forced you to exceed the speed limit, nobody could have done, nobody forced you to stay pig-headedly in the outside lane of the motorway because the middle lane was clear for a long stretch.
“You, Adam Molloy, elected not to give evidence at the trial. That’s not surprising because no-one was forcing you to drive as you did and you could not have had an answer to why you were driving in such an aggressive and intimidating fashion at such a high speed and so close to the car ahead.
“The fact that you hold an HGV licence makes your incredibly foolhardy and gratuitous behaviour even more mystifying.”
Muhammed was found guilty of causing death by dangerous driving, two counts of causing serious injury by dangerous driving, and one count of causing death while uninsured.
Molloy was also jailed for four and a half years after being convicted at a trial last month of causing death by dangerous driving and two counts of causing serious injury by dangerous driving.
Both men were also banned from driving for six years and three months.
The court heard that both drivers were returning from a trip to the coast with their families when they began the “competitive driving” along the motorway, near its junction with the M18, which was captured on another driver’s dash-cam.
Judge Tremberg said the immediate cause of the accident was a “latent defect” to one of the tyres on Muhammed’s car, causing a “catastrophic failure” that was increased by the high speeds.
He said: “That, in turn, caused you, Israr Muhammed, to lose control of your vehicle.
“Your car spun across all three lanes of the motorway in an entirely uncontrolled fashion, it mounted the nearside kerb and went down an embankment, hitting a tree and becoming embedded in dense undergrowth.”
The court heard that Molloy avoided the collision and fled the scene.
The judge said: “But for the presence of the dash-cam footage, that cowardly act of self-preservation would almost certainly have allowed you to escape justice.”
The court heard that Say Han’s car seat was not safely secured in the car and Muhammed’s daughter and eight-year-old son were unrestrained. Muhammed was also uninsured.
Mrs Ali, who suffered a severe traumatic brain injury, spent many months in hospital in a coma, while her daughter sustained multiple facial injuries, including a fracture to her left eye socket. Their older son was not badly injured.
Judge Tremberg said: “Your offending inevitably has caused not just physical harm but emotional harm. Your children have witnessed the loss of their brother. Your wife the loss of a child.”
In a victim impact statement, Mrs Ali urged the judge not to jail her husband.
She said: “If Israr is sentenced to jail this will have a huge impact on me and my children.
“I feel suicidal at the thought of him going to jail.”
Andrew Semple, in mitigation for Muhammed, said he had an “unimpeachable” driving record and described him as a “loving family man, a hard worker”.
Speaking after the sentencing, Sergeant Rob Mazingham, of Humberside Police, said: “I have been involved in many road traffic collisions, however the death of a child in such awful circumstances can only be described as a tragic loss of life.”
He added: “I am sure that Israr Muhammed and Adam Molloy will now spend their time in prison with the memory of that fateful day and the decisions they took that led to such a tragic outcome.”