A habitual criminal has been jailed after a witnesses’ sketch helped identify him after he left a young man to die in a fatal road traffic collision in Redbridge.
Danny Smith, 44 (13.10.77), of Manford Way, Chigwell, was sentenced to 24 years imprisonment in total at Snaresbrook Crown Court on 5 September.
Smith pleaded guilty to a range of offences including the fatal collision and burglary and robbery offences targeting the elderly.
- Cause death by dangerous driving
- Cause death by driving whilst disqualified
- Cause death by driving unlicensed/uninsured driver
- Driver of vehicle fail to stop after road accident
- Handling Stolen Goods
- Criminal Damage to Property – value over £5000
- Theft of motor vehicle
- Using a vehicle without insurance
- Dangerous driving
- Driving while disqualified
- Drive a motor vehicle otherwise than in accordance with a licence
He must serve at least 12 years and was also disqualified from driving for 23 years and five months.
At around 21: 20hrs on Friday, 17 December 2021 Smith was driving a grey Audi in Hainault Road, Redbridge, when he attempted to overtake two cars in front of him, and collided with a Yamaha motorcycle being ridden by 20-year-old Saleem Ahmed, from Redbridge.
Saleem, who was making his way home after spending time with his brother in Romford, was left with catastrophic injuries.
He was tended to by members of the public and LAS paramedics but despite their best efforts he died at the scene.
Detectives from the Met’s Serious Collision Investigation Unit launched an investigation immediately.
It was established that the suspect vehicle was in the local area 30 minutes prior to the collision being driven in an erratic manner. Crucially, a witness drew a sketch of the driver of the car which would be key in identifying him.
Several appeals were issued to the media and public in an attempt to trace witnesses.
Meanwhile, detectives from East Area CID had been investigating a number of offences.
Two days prior to the fatal road traffic collision, Smith gained entry into the home of an elderly female in Havering under false pretences, claiming that he had damaged her fence and would like to fix it. Once inside, he pushed and threatened her before stealing cash and personal items.
On 1 February 2022, he had attended the home of an elderly man in Ilford and gained entry under false pretences before stealing a quantity of cash.
On 5 February, police received a report of a male who had stolen a vehicle from a car showroom in Romford whilst pretending to show interest in purchasing it.
On 7 February, Smith was observed by officers in Waltham Forest driving erratically. When prompted to stop for police, he attempted to escape by reversing into a police vehicle. Assisted by a dog unit, Smith and a passenger in the vehicle were detained and arrested.
Enquiries revealed that the vehicle was on false plates and it was same one that had been stolen from the showroom in Romford.
Smith was found in possession of stolen items, while police checks revealed he was wanted in connection with the fatal collision; forensic evidence would place him inside the Audi that collided with Saleem, while the sketch provided by the witness – bearing an uncanny resemblance to Smith – would help prove he was the driver.
The weight of evidence left Smith with no option but to plead guilty.
Saleem’s family said in a statement: “My son was taken in such cruel circumstances, that for years to come it will affect us all as a family, our friends and our community. I will forever be thankful to the witnesses on the night of the incident; the help they gave to my son, comforting him as he passed away and to the ones who helped bring Danny Smith to justice, I will be forever grateful.
“The support we as a family have had from the Police throughout has been second to none. Nothing will ever bring Saleem back, but knowing that a dangerous criminal is back where he belongs and can no longer ruin other lives, which is what we fought so hard for. To my darling Son, we love you forever’.”
Detective Inspector Julie Trodden, Serious Collision Investigation Unit, said: “Saleem was much loved by his family and friends and well-liked by his work colleagues.
“My sympathies remain with Saleem’s family, who have been through so much and supported us so steadfastly throughout our investigation and this court case. I would like to thank them for their courage, bravery and patience and hope they know we have done the best we could for them, and for Saleem.
“I would also thank all those members of the public that stopped on the night of the collision and made efforts to help Saleem. I know that Saleem’s family would echo these comments”.
“It can only be said that Smith’s actions were reckless, dangerous and entirely avoidable”.