Pyramid Comment

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Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Naseem Hamed

Original posting, September 2006

"Prince" Naseem Hamed showed no emotion as a Judge sentenced him to prison for 15 months for dangerous driving that caused a crash hitting two other vehicles and left an occupant in one of the vehicles seriously injured. Hamed was also banned from driving for four years on Friday (12.05.06). Hamed pleaded guilty to the May incident driving a Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren sports car, which smashed into two other cars near the Hamed's home in Sheffield. The driver of one of the other cars broke numerous bones and has had several operations since the crash.

In court it was revealed that Hamed was trying to impress an associate, who was in the car with him. Hamed was traveling on the wrong side of the road at a speed estimated to be 145 km/h (90mph) when he crashed head-on into a Volkswagen Golf that emerged from a dip in the road. Hamed then hit a second vehicle, a Ford Mondeo. According to The Press Association the court heard the driver of the Ford, Michael Wood, described Hamed's driving as "stupid, suicide, ridiculous".

During the sentencing, Judge Alan Goldsack QC said:

"I have to balance the many features in this case; the aggravating features of hugely excessive speed, a blatantly dangerous manoeuvre, your persistent disregard of the speeding laws and the dreadful consequences of this offence for your victims against the mitigating features of a guilty plea, your good character in all respects other than motoring matters and the absence of some features present in many such cases - the most obvious being drink."

  • Offensively, the suggestion is that as drink was not implicated, then it's not so serious, rather than greater care and attention should have been exercised.
The irony is that if drink were to have been involved, at least that could be an excuse for acting in this way. As drink was not involved there can be no excuse. The sentence should have originally been greater for this fact alone. That care and attention was clearly NOT exercised. Also, "good character in all other respects" seems to make it OK to behave in this "stupid, suicide, ridiculous" manner. It doesn't and any previous "good character" behaviour is wiped out. That's the price of being a prat. A seriously dangerous prat.

The Judge added: "I have no doubt the only possible sentence here is an immediate custodial sentence. It is far too serious for anything else. Having performed that balancing exercise, there will be a prison sentence of 15 months." [Well, actually there won't be 15 months: just 16 weeks - see below.]

Judge Alan Goldsack voiced regret that the law did not allow him to jail Naseem for longer and said: "You could easily have killed Mr Burgin."

The victim of Naseem Hamed's dangerous driving Anthony Burgin spoke out in court about the crash that broke almost every major bone in his body, the most seriously injured in the car accident caused by Naseem Hamed. He was still in an elbow brace when he attended the sentencing. He was quoted by the Mirror UK, saying: "My heart was in my mouth waiting for the sentence but I'm so glad the right message to other speeding drivers was sent out by the judge. This devastated our lives."  Anthony fumed: "He just walked away from the wreckage without even checking if I was alive or phoning for help. He abandoned us and left me to die because his first and only instinct was to save himself and walk away. That man left me for dead."

Mr. Burgin was also angry that Naseem never bothered to say sorry for last May's crash other than a half-hearted apology through his lawyer in court. In regards to Hamed's apology through his lawyer, Mr. Burgin had this to say:  "It was too little too late. He could have contacted us or written a letter, but he didn't. If he really wanted to say sorry he would have done so, but he has no idea how much damage he's done to us."

"Obviously he would have preferred not to have been sent to prison if that could have been avoidable but he took his penalty and accepted his penalty in the manner I would expect from him."

Hamed showed no emotion as he was sent down, but members of his family, who were sitting in the packed public gallery, broke down in tears. Outside court, Jane Wright, the solicitor for Mr Burgin and his wife, said:

"Our clients are extremely relieved with this decision and the sentence that has been returned. People must never underestimate the amount of damage done to people's lives through driving dangerously. They hope that this sentence will help other people realise the dangers inherent in speeding."

In retrospect, 16 weeks of a 64 week sentence = 25%. He admitted dangerous driving. Hamed's family refused to make any comment. The star, famed for his cocky arrogance in the ring, admitted he embarked on the perilous manoeuvre after losing patience with the driver ahead of him. He told police: "At the time I was just so het up and so frustrated with a car in front that was braking. "All I could see was the guy looking in his mirror and seeing who was behind him. It was irritating."

But the motorist, Michael Wood, branded the manoeuvre "stupid, suicidal and ridiculous". Anthony smashed his left leg - with his bones sticking through his skin. He also broke both upper and lower arms, his right thigh, several ribs and injured his spine. As a result of several ops, his left leg is now nearly 2ins shorter than his right. Anthony also suffered swelling to part of his brain, his vision was affected and he may never work again. He sat in court with wife Claire yesterday with his right elbow still in a metal frame. Prosecutor Mr Hatton said:

"He considers his life to be wrecked." And Anthony said outside court: "My injuries were horrific. It's amazing I'm alive and sitting here, because the doctors didn't expect me to survive."  And he is sickened that Naseem appeared to show little concern for his welfare as he hurried away from the accident to his nearby home. The star argued he ran off to get help for his bleeding passenger, but he feebly claimed he feared trouble might erupt if people arrived at the scene and recognised him. But Anthony retorted:

"I still want to know how he could leave me there when he went home and changed his shirt. Why didn't he go to the fire station just two doors away from his home? If I had been responsible for doing that to someone I'd have to know how the other person was. I'd have gone to see him to make sure he was OK. But no, he just took the easy way out and ran away. He didn't care. That's what upsets us most in all this. Accidents happen, but the speed he was going, crossing the double white lines then getting out and legging it - that beggars belief."

The court heard that over the past 11 years Hamed had clocked up four previous speeding offences - three of which incurred penalty points and one that landed him a three-month ban.

However, the court did not hear about a one-year speeding ban imposed after he was caught at 110mph in 1996 - after the DVLA refused to release details to avoid infringing his (in)human rights. The judge said: "I find it astonishing that the DVLA has not been prepared to cooperate with the prosecution to give them details of your earlier offences, apparently on human rights grounds."

  • Amazingly the boxer's lawyer Martin Sharpe tried to blame the horror crash on the supercar, which bore the personal number plate NAS1.

Mr Sharp pointed out it was new and said Naseem did not fully understand its performance levels. But he added: "He accepts his driving was both reckless and dangerous. He was taking a fellow motoring enthusiast out for a drive and took a stupid risk overtaking at completely the wrong place. What he then did could never be any excuse for what happened. He overtook when he should not have done, when conditions were not proper".

What about speeding on the wrong side of the road? At night.

"He realises that words alone can never be recompense and nothing he can say can ever make up for all the hurt that his actions alone have caused."

Ready to be sick? Naseem remained impassive but pregnant wife Eleasha wept in the public gallery as sentence was passed. Not for Mr Burgin, though, I'm sure. Judge Goldsack told him:

"You have shown a persistent disregard for the motoring laws, particularly speed limits. Speeding is clearly not something you got out of your system as a young man. It was a major cause of this incident. Your fame does not mean... be dealt with in any different way... You, like everyone else, have an obligation to obey the law when behind the wheel of a motor car."

And he said he regretted that plans to increase the two-year maximum sentence for dangerous driving which does not result in death had failed. The available maximum, where death does not result, is insufficient to do justice in many case. "Yours, in my judgment, is such a case."

His ex- manager and trainer Brendan Ingle said: "It's been well documented that he had problems with his driving."

Problems? Yes. I would call them problems.
So why is he still on the roads?

"It just shouldn't have got this far
but that's what happens when
fame and money go to your head."

Just how far should it have got? Or not. Stopped before getting to court? The Burgins now plan to sue him in a bid to rebuild their shattered lives. Claire said: "We've had to survive on one salary while he's swanning around in his luxury cars. This has affected our relationship. I was nursing Anthony 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You can't do that without falling out occasionally."

Lawyer Jane Wright said she was preparing a compensation claim. She said: "This money will be recompense for their shattered lives, enabling them to get the best medical care and improve their quality of life as much as is now possible."

Naseem Hamed left jail in Doncaster, South Yorkshire, yesterday after serving 16 weeks of a 15-month sentence for dangerous driving, convicted in May of seriously injuring a 38-year-old man in a 90mph head-on collision when driving his £320,000 Mercedes McLaren last year. A silver Rolls-Royce and a stretch Range Rover were waiting for the former world featherweight champion outside Moorland open prison.

As he left Hamed said his "heart went out" to the injured couple, Anthony Burgin and his wife Claire. Well, Hamed has lost my respect totally. Firstly for the attitude that caused the collision. Secondly, the attitude of "It's OK, because no one died." He caused the problem, but no one died. 

Isn't that good fortune for Hamed.

The victim had just about every major bone in his body broken. Isn't that good fortune for Hamed? So: why was he let out so early? 16 weeks of 15 months = 25%. When Hamed began professional boxing he was a refreshing stylist. Neither orthodox nor southpaw, but switching between the two. Effective because the direction of attack was totally unpredictable. Over the last several years he has moved out of the public mind. Profile has been on the descent and is still accelerating downwards. Why?

I don't care.
Rich losers don't count in important issues