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Gloucestershire Business News

Speeding taxi driver caused pedestrian’s death in Cheltenham

A speeding taxi driver caused a pedestrian's death just sixteen minutes after police had flagged him down to warn him about his driving - but decided not to book him, a court heard on Tuesday (April 2).

After the police had given Shakoor Ahmed the official warning he picked up two passengers in his Toyota Prius cab and was doing 53mph in a 40mph limit in Cheltenham when he hit 32-year-old Dan Beames as he crossed the road in front of him, Gloucester Crown Court was told.

Mr Beames, who has been described by friends as 'a king of practical jokes and puns,' suffered fatal skull fractures in the collision.

Shortly before the collision on December 17, 2021, Ahmed, 46, told his passengers about the speed warning he had just received then bragged that he had reached 100mph on the by-pass he was driving them along.

Until his scheduled trial at Cirencester Courthouse on Tuesday (April 2), father of three Ahmed, of Conduit Street, Gloucester, had always denied the charge of causing the death of Mr Beames by dangerous driving.

But at the last moment, with a jury panel waiting to try him, he changed his plea to guilty.

He did so after asking Judge Rupert Lowe to indicate the maximum sentence he would be likely to pass for the offence. The judge heard the prosecution summary of the case but then declined to give any indication of sentence. Despite that, however, Ahmed then admitted the charge and was bailed until May 2, for a pre-sentence report to be prepared.

Judge Lowe told Ahmed that he will be receiving an immediate prison term and the only question to be determined is how long that will be.

Prosecutor Emily Evans said: "Sixteen minutes before the collision he was stopped by two police officers in Kingsholm, Gloucester, because of his speed. At that point the officers were deciding whether to prosecute him for careless driving, but they took some time to consider that because they knew he was a taxi driver.

"The period of driving they had seen was only for a few seconds when Ahmed was coming towards them. Speed was the issue.

"He was warned by the officers that there had been a big rugby game on in Gloucester that day and there were a lot of people around and the speed he was doing was inappropriate for the conditions.

"They felt his driving was inappropriate not only because of the speed limit on the road but also because of the prevailing conditions. Having taken some time to consider the situation they decided to give him the benefit of the doubt because prosecuting him would have an impact on his occupation as a taxi driver.

"They took the decision to issue him with a Section 59 warning."

(Section 59 of the Police Reform Act 2002 is used when an officer feels that a motorist's driving is or has been causing, or is likely to cause, alarm, distress or annoyance to members of the public. The warning is registered against both the driver and the vehicle and is on the record for 12 months.)

The prosecutor said the officers who stopped Ahmed were wearing bodycams which recorded him acknowledging that he was driving too fast and accepting that he probably needed a warning to get him to slow down.

"He was given that warning and was told by the officers that they could have reported him to the taxi licensing authority and that could have resulted in him losing his licence," Ms Evans said. "But they said they chose not to do so on this occasion.

"He did not heed that warning. He went from there to collect a fare, a Mr Walker and his son in law, from the taxi rank outside Gloucester Bus Station and they asked to be taken to Cheltenham.

"Mr Walker says that Ahmed's driving was at times excessive in speed. He was aggressively overtaking other vehicles and making comments, boasting, that he had just been stopped by the police. He told Mr Walker he had been warned but he then said his vehicle could reach 100mph and he had done that speed on the by-pass.

"In fact, Mr Walker could see from the speedometer that the defendant did reach that speed. The driver's speed only decreased when other vehicles blocked his way.

"At one point he was behind a bus and slowed down. He then overtook the bus and increased his speed.

"In Lansdown Road, Cheltenham, there was a small vehicle in front of him being driven by a Mr Blair who was stopping at the red traffic lights at Westal Green, just before the Texaco Garage on a triangular-shaped roundabout.

"As Mr Blair stopped, he saw the defendant approaching him from behind. Mr Blair was then doing about 5mph as the lights turned back to green and Ahmed pulled out from behind him and into the lane on his right.

"Mr Beames, who had been to the Texaco garage on the roundabout to buy a box of Budweiser beers, was crossing that road when the collision occurred. This happened sixteen minutes after Ahmed had been stopped by the police in Gloucester and given a warning."

Ms Evans said it had been established that Mr Beames was using his mobile phone as he crossed the road. Mr Walker, in the front passenger seat of the taxi, said he saw Mr Beames in the road 20-30 metres before the collision.

At that stage, he said, Ahmed had the accelerator pedal pressed flat out to the floor but he then braked.

The road at the scene of the collision had a 40mph speed limit but the telematic system in the taxi showed he was doing 53mph.

Ms Evans said that nine months before the tragedy Ahmed had received 3 penalty points on his licence for a speeding offence.

That conviction was an aggravating feature of the case, as was his 100mph driving after he had been stopped by the police and warned about his speed, she added.

"At the speed he was travelling in Cheltenham there was no way he would have managed to avoid Mr Beames," she added. "But if he had been doing the limit of 40mph the risk of fatality was only 30 percent compared with 80 percent at 53mph.

"It is right the court should know that Mr Beames had been to a party and had been drinking alcohol. But he was coherent and compos mentis. He was not so intoxicated that he did not appreciate the risk of crossing the road.

"Eye witnesses at the scene all say that Mr Ahmed's speed was the reason he collided with Mr Beames and the reason he did not survive his injuries. He suffered multiple skull fractures and a bleed on the brain and never recovered from those injuries.

"Mr Ahmed disregarded the risk to others. As well as the rugby being on in Gloucester it was Christmas party season and there were a lot of people around at the time. The defendant decided to ignore all that as well as the warning he had just received from the police.

"In his police interview after the collision he apportioned 70percent of the blame to Mr Beames for running out into the road in front of him."

Catherine Spedding, defending, said it was later found that Mr Beames had a blood alcohol reading of 193 mgs percent - almost two and a half times the limit for a driver. He also had cannabinoids in his blood, she said.

She submitted these may have caused a lack of co-ordination and suggested that Mr Beames may not have looked properly too see the approaching car.

Bailing Ahmed for sentence next month Judge Lowe said he would get 'significant' credit and a shorter sentence for pleading guilty rather than having a trial.

**Shortly after the death of Mr Beames, his family and friends issued an emotional tribute to him and spoke of his 'loyalty, humour and passion.'

They said "Daniel Mark Beames, well known as Beamer, was charismatic, loyal and passionate. He was a proud man, quirky, with the greatest of morals.

"Daniel was the king of practical jokes and puns. Always going out of his way to prank someone for the entertainment of himself and others around him. He was constantly up to mischief, but had the persona, charm and quick-wittedness to get away with anything.

"He didn't live to work. He worked to live. A great storyteller and traveller.

"Dan was radiant. Incomparable. A gentle man with so much love inside of him. Whether one on one, or in a group of people, he was a pleasure to be around.

"What has happened to Dan has sent immense shock and pain throughout his friendship circles and family. Dan left this world as the most wonderful partner, step dad, son, brother, nephew, uncle, cousin and friend. He left a print on all who crossed his path.

"Everyone should be more Beamer."

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