A young drug dealer who killed a respected Leeds academic as he drove dangerously to get away from a pursuing police car was today jailed for 10 years.
Cyclist Andrew Platten, a 55-year-old father, suffered fatal injuries when he was hit by Akash Rashid’s out of control Vauxhall Vectra on Cottingley Cliffe Road in Bingley, West Yorkhire, last July.
Bradford Crown Court heard today how Rashid had been seen supplying a £10 cannabis deal to a group of sixth form students, but when officers in an unmarked vehicle illuminated their lights and sirens he accelerated away.
Prosecutor Howard Shaw told the court that during the pursuit Rashid ignored junctions and weaved from side to side as he tried to pass a van.
As he went round a bend on Cottingley Cliffe Road that evening at more than 70mph Rashid, who was driving without a full licence or insurance, lost control of the Vectra and it veered across the road hitting Dr Platten.
Mr Shaw said the victim’s bicycle disintegrated and Dr Platten suffered catastrophic injures and almost certainly died instantaneously.
He will be deeply missed but he has left his stamp on all who met him. He will always be cherished and never forgotten - living on in all our hearts.Statement by the Platten family
Rashid, 22, of Brantwood Grove, Bradford, tried to run off, but he eventually stopped and was arrested by an officer following a struggle.
Mr Shaw said officers recovered a bag containing a further 16 cannabis deals along with £190 in cash and Rashid was later tested for drugs in his system and found to be over the limit for cannabis.
Dr Platten’s son described in his victim impact statement how he would give anything to spend even five seconds with the father he looked up as a hero and a mentor.
Dr Platten had been chairman of the Centre for Knowledge Excellence - an enterprise hub at Leeds Beckett University.
Rashid pleaded guilty to a series of offences including causing death by dangerous driving, supplying cannabis and possessing cannabis with intent to supply.
He also admitted driving while under the influence of drugs and an unrelated assault offence for which he was on police bail at the time of the fatal collision last July.
Barrister Shufqat Khan read a letter written by Rashid in which he accepted that he deserved a long prison sentence.
“Nothing will bring back the cyclist who I had (the) accident with, but I still want to say sorry to the family and I hope they can find it in their hearts to forgive me,” said Rashid.
Jailing Rashid for a total of 10 years Judge David Hatton QC said:”In driving your vehicle away from the police you drove in such a manner that you lost control of your vehicle and took away a life when you struck a cyclist causing him devastating injuries and instantaneous death.
“The purpose of sentencing in cases such as this is not to place a value on a life for such is an impossibility.
“The purpose of sentencing in such cases as this is to assess the culpability of the driver, you, by evaluating the quality of the driving which I have done and that driving in this particular case can be described as grotesque.
“A further aggravating feature is that you had consumed illegal drugs and were under the influence of such so as to impair your driving ability.”
Judge Hatton said the appropriate jail sentence for causing Dr Platten’s death by dangerous driving was 12 years but Rashid was entitled to a 25 per cent discount for his early guilty plea reducing the prison term to nine years.
But the judge added a further six months for the drugs offences and another six months for the assault matter.
Rashid was also banned from driving for eight years and ordered to take an extended re-test before lawfully driving on the roads again.
In a statement issued after the hearing, Dr Platten’s family said: “Andrew excelled as a respected and dedicated academic, with a love for art, poetry and music. For anyone that knew him, cycling was his true passion as he became a recognised competitive rider on the roads.
“Most importantly he was a loved friend, loyal brother and uncle, loving partner and a truly inspirational father. He will be deeply missed but he has left his stamp on all who met him. He will always be cherished and never forgotten - living on in all our hearts.
“Finally I would like to give a special thanks to PC Jez Hepworth, DC Lorna Ratcliffe and everyone else involved from West Yorkshire Police, for their continued support and hard work throughout this indescribable traumatic ordeal.”
Senior Investigating Officer, Detective Superintendent Simon Atkinson of West Yorkshire Police, added: “I would first like to convey our sympathies to Andrew’s family, who are still coming to terms with their sad loss.
“I hope they will take some comfort in knowing that the man who was responsible for his sudden and needless death, Akash Rashid, is now behind bars.
“Rashid’s actions in trying to evade police by driving dangerously resulted in tragedy and I hope he will use his time in prison to reflect on these reckless actions and the devastation he has caused.
“I also hope this will serve as a reminder to others of what can happen when vehicles are driven in this way.”