'Absolutely shameless': YouTuber jailed after posting videos of 100mph street races in Leeds in high-performance cars

A man from Leeds whose YouTube videos went viral has been sentenced to three years in prison for making content described by a judge as "like something from Grand Theft Auto".

By Richard Beecham
Tuesday, 21st June 2022, 5:32 pm

Adeel Habib, 25, of Easterley Road, is already serving a four year jail sentence on drugs charges, but was also the mastermind behind the Certi Drivers YouTube channel, which posted videos of anonymous motorists driving high-performance cars at speed around Leeds roads.

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A sentencing hearing at Leeds Crown Court was told how, in August 2020, police became aware of an Instagram account posting short video clips of cars racing and driving on the wrong side of the road in and around Leeds.

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Adeel Habib ran a YouTube channel with tens of thousands of subscribers.

The court was shown a clip of a car driving through a red light, as well as another entitled "Taxi driver wants to wipe man out of the game" where a car reached speeds in excess of 100 mph.

The Instagram account, the court heard, was primarily to divert social media users to the main Certi Drivers YouTube channel, which featured longer and more detailed videos.

The court was then shown a video showing a car racing with a green Honda CSX, and another video entitled "Feds don't want this smoke". Many of the videos also included a pixelated speedometer.

Each video featured two disclaimers, one of which claiming the filming took place mostly in Mexico.

Prosecuting, Anthony Moore said: "Footage shows it is, as far as I can see, Leeds."

Another video was posted during which a conversation between a driver and passenger can be heard, with one saying: "It is a bit stupid, what I do, bro, but I understand my limits. I knew I could make that."

The final video submitted as evidence by the police was posted on October 21 last year, at which point the YouTube channel had 53,000 subscribers. The court heard how the channel provided an income to Habib, not only from the number of views, but also from a financial services website he promoted in some of the videos, where Habib gives viewers details of an introductory offer.

Mr Moore added: "While these videos are still live, there is a clear risk to life and limb."

All offences were committed between December 2020 and October 2021.

Habib was invited to read out a letter that was sent to the judge.

Via a video link from Armley jail, he told the court: "I don't wish to justify my mistakes, but they do not define who I am.

"Certi was something I built from my followers on social media. I would like to take full responsibility and my actions were wrong.

"I knew this type of video would give me a lot of views on social media. I apologise for this - it was childish."

Mitigating for Habib, Rodney Ferm also read out a letter from Leeds city councillor Zara Hussain, who said she had attended school with Habib and grew up on the same street.

It read: "Throughout the times I have known him, I have formed a positive opinion. He is known to be caring, friendly and trustworthy, and is prepared to go above and beyond expectations.

"I know him to be a hard working young man who has had a lot of community involvement."

Mr Ferm added: "He is serving his first sentence and he is 25-years-old.

"How much longer should this young man serve? He has a long time to serve already and he has shown he has an insight into his offending and a realisation that this offending can't take place again."

Habib had pleaded guilty to both dangerous driving and in encouraging or assisting in the commission of an offence (dangerous driving),

Sentencing Habib, Recorder Gurdial Singh said: "Your business was encouraging people to drive dangerously.

"From my watching, it was like I was playing Grand Theft Auto.

"I have been puzzling over which is more serious - encouraging others to drive dangerously or doing so yourself.

"It is disconcerting seeing these clips and what you have done - it is beyond belief that you would encourage others to drive dangerously."

He sentenced Habib to 27 months in prison, along with a disqualification from driving.

Following the sentence, Insp Richard Horn, who heads the Leeds North-East Neighbourhood Policing Team, said: “Habib has been shown to be someone who regularly engaged in dangerous driving on public roads with all the potential risk of harm to other road users that accompanies such appalling behaviour.

“He was absolutely shameless about it and showed utter contempt for law-abiding road users and the law by regularly posting videos of his antics to impress his many followers.

“Those videos and the notoriety that surrounded his ‘brand’ clearly had the ability to influence others to flout road traffic laws and put other road users at risk, and he was rightly charged with an offence that specifically recognised that aspect of his behaviour.

“His own arrogance was his downfall in that those videos provided us with a rich seam of material to present to the court and have him answer for his actions.

“We hope his conviction and the sentence he has received will provide some source of reassurance to the public who I’m sure will have been horrified by his glamourising of dangerous driving.

“It should also send a very clear message to those who think they can take part in and promote criminal behaviour in this way without having to face the consequences.”