UPDATE: Driver gives evidence in runaway van death trial

CRASH SCENE Emergency services in Willans Road . (D553C318)
CRASH SCENE Emergency services in Willans Road . (D553C318)
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A driver accused of causing the death of a mother of four defended his actions in the witness box today (Tuesday) at Leeds Crown Court.

Freelance electrician Mohammed Karani, 44, had left his Ford Transit van parked in Swindon Road, Dewsbury, while he was doing electrical work in a nearby school.

The van then rolled down the hill before ploughing into Simran Ahmed and her family, killing Mrs Ahmed and leaving daughter Kiran with a fractured skull.

Prosecutor Stephen Wood suggested Mr Karani, from Batley, had only partially applied his handbrake, and had failed to turn the wheels of his van to avoid it rolling down the hill.

Mr Wood said: “You will know Swindon Road is one of the steepest roads in the area, yet you did not turn your steering wheel.”

Mr Karani replied: “I do not do that, but how many people do that on a steep hill? Is it mandatory?

“You are making me confused.”

Mr Wood then asked whether Mr Karani accepted that if he had turned his steering wheel, Simran Ahmed would still be alive today.

Mr Karani was silent for several seconds before replying: “Turning the wheel towards the curb does not show me whether she would have been alive.

“You are trying to say that because of me a death occurred.”

Mr Wood repeated the question before Mr Karani responded: “If I had turned the wheels towards the curb but the vehicle still rolled down the hill, would you still blame me? I am now asking you a question.”

A tense back-and-forth occurred before Mr Wood suggested Mr Karani had been so preoccupied with writing notes in his work book after he parked the car, that he had forgotten to put his handbrake on properly.

Mr Karani maintained he had not forgotten to put on the handbrake, and had pulled it up as far as he could.

Mr Wood responded: “You may wish most earnestly, with every fibre of your being, that was the case, but it is not.”

Mr Karani continued to insist his handbrake was applied properly.

Andrew Dallas, defending Mr Karani, read out a number of character witness statements, including one from former colleague Steve Abrahams.

It said: “He is honest and trustworthy – I have never found him to be dishonest and he is a good friend.”

The trial continues.