JUSTICE was delayed again yesterday for the family of a teenage girl who died in the passenger seat of a car driven by her drunken boyfriend.
Saddat Abdul-Hakin, of Rose Terrace, Stanhope, County Durham, was two-and-a-half times over the drink-drive limit when he crashed the car at high speed with Hayley Durston, 17, in the front passenger seat.
Now aged 19, he has already admitted causing death by dangerous driving following the crash on August 9, 2009.
Yesterday 20 of Hayley’s family and friends had gathered at Durham Crown Court expecting to hear Abdul-Hakin sentenced.
But judge Christopher Prince apologised to them, saying he was going to pass responsibility for sentencing to another judge, Colin Burns.
He explained that he believed Judge Burns was more qualified to pass sentence as he had presided over an earlier trial of a 21-year-old man, who was acquitted by a jury last month of causing Hayley’s death by dangerous driving.
It was alleged the 21-year-old and Abdul-Hakin had been racing when Abdul-Hakin’s Rover 25 crashed in Howden-le-Wear, Crook, County Durham, Hayley, of Benbow Walk, Coundon, near Bishop Auckland, died from head injuries after the Rover left Bridge Street and struck a bridge parapet.
The 21-year-old's barrister, defending him at his trial, argued that the crash was not his client’s fault, saying the defendant had overtaken the Rover earlier and Abdul-Hakim made the disastrous decision to re-overtake in a “show of machismo”. He said: “It was when overtaking my client, that Abdul-Hakim lost control. He was a poor and inexperienced driver, two-and-a-half times over the drink-drive limit, attempting a dangerous overtaking movement at high speed.
“The fact is it was his fault – as simple as that.”
Judge Prince said the judge at the 21-year-old's previous trial was more qualified to decide whether or not Abdul-Hakin had been racing, warning him to expect a “very severe” sentence if it was established that he had been racing, but a “significantly lower” one if it was decided he had not been racing.
Apologising to Hayley’s family and friends in the public gallery, the judge said: “I hope you appreciate that the court is making every effort so that this case is dealt with justly. I appreciate you came to court expecting a sentence today, I’m sorry but I hope you understand the reasons for the delay.”
Abdul-Hakin was granted conditional bail and the sentencing was adjourned until an unspecified date, probably next month.
Hayley’s family declined to comment afterwards but have described their daughter as “a lovely girl who was devoted to her family”.