A dangerous driver jailed for killing a mother while “showing off” at speeds of up to 110mph in his Range Rover has seen his sentence increased by the Court of Appeal after it was found to be “unduly lenient”.
Rida Kazem, 24, was driving beautician Yagmur Ozden, 33, and their friend Zamarod Arif, then aged 26, home from a night out in west London in the early hours of August 22 last year when he lost control.
Ms Ozden died of her injuries while Kazem later had his left leg amputated below the knee after the pair were thrown from the vehicle as it ploughed through a Tesla car park, ending up on a west London railway track.
Ms Arif, who was the only one wearing a seatbelt, sustained serious injuries – including a broken arm and leg – in the crash, which happened near Ealing.
In May, Judge Martin Edmunds KC jailed Kazem, from Greenford, west London, for seven-and-a-half years after he previously pleaded guilty to causing death by dangerous driving and causing serious injury by dangerous driving.
But at a hearing in London on Thursday, senior judges increased Kazem’s sentence to nine years after it was challenged by the Attorney General’s Office (AGO) as being unduly lenient.
During his sentencing at Isleworth Crown Court, west London, CCTV footage of the incident was played, drawing gasps and sobs from members of Ms Ozden’s family.
Rida Kazem’s sentence has been increased to nine years (PA)
Kazem’s black Range Rover Sport SVR, valued at up to £180,000, hit a top speed of 110mph on the 40mph-limit A40 westbound before he lost control, hitting a curb.
Footage showed the airborne vehicle crash across a pavement, through a fence and into a lower-level car park.
Spinning nose-over-rear, the Range Rover hit a stationary Tesla, occupied by a taxi driver, who was charging the car, before the wreckage ended up on the tracks at Park Royal Tube station.
At Thursday’s hearing, Joel Smith, for the AGO, said the sentencing judge’s approach to calculating Kazem’s jail term was “inadequate”.
The barrister also said that the “significant injuries” caused to Ms Arif and the taxi driver – which included 25 fragments of glass needing to be removed from his eyes – “justified a further significant increase” in Kazem’s sentence.
Victim: Beautician Yagmur Ozden (Linkedin)
Judges were told that Kazem had previous speeding convictions, including a May 2020 offence of driving at 95mph in a 50mph zone and another of breaking the speed limit for which he was banned from driving for six months in November 2020.
Mr Smith said Kazem “had not learned from his previous convictions” while highlighting aggravating features of his case, including the impact on victims such as Ms Ozden’s 13-year-old daughter Melek.
The teenager previously described her “shock” over the fatal crash in a victim impact statement, and said after the May hearing that she was “not really happy” with his sentence.
In written arguments, the AGO said Kazem, who joined Thursday’s hearing via video-link, had “exposed other road users and members of the public to a very significant risk of death or serious harm”.
“It is submitted that the sentence imposed was unduly lenient and failed to take proper account of the nature of the offences of which the offender has been convicted, and the aggravating features,” the AGO document said.
David Rhodes, for Kazem, said: “The sentence, while lenient, was not unduly lenient. It was lenient but justly so.”
He said the offender had a “daily reminder of his crime”, adding that the “days are longer in prison than for an able-bodied person”.
Mr Rhodes said Kazem could not engage in education or work in prison nor get the physiotherapy he needed for his injuries which will require further surgery.
The lawyer said the sentencing judge made a “reasonable, humane and merciful” decision.
Lady Justice Thirlwall, sitting with Mr Justice Wall and Mrs Justice Ellenbogen, concluded Kazem’s jail term was “unduly lenient” after an “error” in the assessment of the sentencing judge.
She said it was “likely to be correct” that Kazem had been “showing off to his friends” during the incident.
Kazem will serve at least two-thirds of the sentence and was banned from driving for 14 years.