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April 9, 2021

Appeal as Karachi man’s hit-and-run killer gets only 18-month jail

National

April 9, 2021

LONDON: A Pakistani family is appealing for the increase in punishment for those found to be involved in hit-and-run killings after Pakistani restaurant owner Syed Shiraz Haider Zaidi was killed by a 21 years old runaway driver, who was taking drugs minutes ahead of running over the victim, but received only 18 months jail sentence.

Gary Haffenden was over-speeding when he hit Syed Zaidi, 35, in Virginia Water, Surrey, on March 17, 2019 in front of his wife and two children. This week he was jailed only for 18 months at the Reading Crown Court and the victim’s family has spoken of their heart ache at the light sentencing.

Syed Zaidi’s family has expressed disappointment that the serial offender has been jailed only for 18 months which means he will be back on the roads within a few months.

The victim’s brother-in-law Syed Ali Raza Zaidi has initiated a campaign through online petition calling on the UK Parliament to change the law that lets the offenders get away with murders, literally.

The victim was originally from Karachi where most of his family still resides. Syed Shiraz Haider Zaidi had moved to the UK a few years ago and was running a successful restaurant business. At the time of hit-and-run, Syed Zaidi was covering a job for one of his staff members while Gary Haffenden was on the way to pick up two girls. The court saw the CCTV footage of Gary Haffenden sucking on a balloon thought to be filled with nitrous oxide – known as “laughing gas”.

The court also heard that Haffenden was involved in another crash on August 16, 2018. On that occasion he had fallen asleep behind the wheel of his Toyota Hilux and left victim Graham Nichols with life-changing injuries. Widow Afsheen Shiraz told the court ahead of the sentencing: “After this incident I have lost myself, I have to take care of my children alone, I am totally incomplete without him. My heart weeps every night. When my children ask when their papa is coming back I am left speechless. My daughter said she wanted to become a doctor so she can heal her father from the accident.

“We were all sitting in the car, it was a family day out at Virginia Water, everything happened in front of us. We were looking to our husband delivering food, after that he was coming back - my children saw it all. We will never forget that moment. I saw my husband upside down, blood was coming out of his mouth, I cannot explain - it was horrible, the worst day of my life. It all happened in the blink of an eye.”

The court heard that Haffenden was on police bail when he killed Mr Zaidi - for the crash that injured Mr Nichols nine months earlier.

Haffenden admitted causing death by careless driving, causing death while uninsured and failing to stop, as well as admitting to the previous offence of causing serious injury by dangerous driving.

Syed Raza said that these laws are outdated and need strengthening to discourage those who violate rules. He said that Gary Haffenden killed her brother-in-law and her sister is left with two beautiful kids, aged under five. He said: “We can clearly see that guy (Gary Haffenden) was on bail before killing recklessly Mr Syed Shiraz Haider Zaidi while using laughing gas, this kind of crime should not be given only 18-month punishment, if someone is using drugs it should be a murder rather considering it death by dangerous or careless. We are appealing for justice for all victims. We want the UK Parliament to take steps to make new and relevant laws to give toughest punishment to the offenders.”