WEST LONDON – An Imam who ran over and killed a man lying in the middle of the road after hurling insults at people trying to warn him told police he thought the body was a bin bag.
Qari Hazarvi Abassi, 72, was on his way to lead early morning prayers at the Abubakr Mosque in Southall, west London, when he hit Harvinder Singh, 49, on 4 May 2021.
Details of the crime
According to source, two passers-by saw Mr Singh lying in the middle of Lady Margaret Road and tried to divert the vehicles around him.
But when they tried to warn Abassi he ignored them, forcing them to jump out of the way before he drove over Mr Singh’s head and chest.
He drove off muttering in Urdu, which translates to: ‘Sister f****r, child of a pimp.’
Abassi was arrested at his home at 5 am and told police he might have run over a bin bag.
The man died
Mr Singh died from his injuries, including fractured ribs on his right side, damage to his liver and abdominal haemorrhaging at 4.11am that morning.
He had been found on the road before saying he wanted to kill himself.
Abassi claimed he did not stop when he saw two men warning him of the hazard as he thought they were drunk.
Judge Rebecca Poulet, KC, ordered a pre-sentence report to find out how Abassi’s age would affect him in prison.
The Imam was driving at 25mph in a 20mph zone when he hit Mr Singh.
Prosecutor Alexander Agbamu earlier told the court how the two members of the public were standing in the road, warning Abassi of the imminent hazard ahead.
‘Mr Abassi disregarded those warnings and did not slow his approach, causing the members of the public to jump out of the way to avoid being hit themselves.
‘He drove over Mr Singh and continued to drive on without stopping. Mr Singh sustained devastating injury and was pronounced dead later that morning.’
Why he didn’t stop
Giving evidence through an Urdu interpreter, Abassi said he had not stopped when he saw the men because he thought they might have been drunk.
He said: ‘While I was driving I saw two men standing on the road and they were showing some gestures towards me and I thought ”why are they doing these gestures with their hands towards me? Either they want a lift or they are drunk”.
‘There was something lying on the road which I thought was a bin or briefcase or something, and these men with their gestures.
‘So I was thinking ”Why are they doing this to me for being a human being, so I made some comments which were sweary”.
‘It was never in my mind that some human being or person was there.
‘When people ask you to stop and you don’t know those people, you don’t stop for that reason.’
The prosecutor asked him: ‘Do you think you did anything wrong’?
He said ‘no’
Abassi replied: ‘No’.
Abassi, of Longboat Row, Southall, denied but was convicted of causing death by careless driving.
The cleric was granted bail ahead of sentencing on a date to be fixed.