Driver who damaged cars worth millions in London given suspended prison sentence

Driver who damaged cars worth millions in London given suspended prison sentence
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Updated 04 December 2020

Driver who damaged cars worth millions in London given suspended prison sentence

Driver who damaged cars worth millions in London given suspended prison sentence
  • Ahmed Al-Husseini hit £300k McLaren MP4, £200k Bentley and £100k Porsche Cayenne during 92mph chase in 30mph zone

LONDON: A delivery driver who sped through central London as he chased another car before crashing into a row of supercars, causing up to £1 million ($1.34 million) of damage, was given a 10-month suspended prison sentence on Wednesday.

CCTV footage from August 2019 showed Ahmed Al-Husseini, 25, behind the wheel of an Audi A8 in the exclusive Chelsea area as he pursued the driver of a Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren, who he believed had damaged his car.

During the chase, Al-Husseini’s vehicle jumped through the air and collided with railings outside a house before crashing into a £300,000 McLaren MP4, a £200,000 Bentley and a £100,000 Porsche Cayenne. He also damaged an Audi A5, a Porsche Carrera 4S, a Land Rover Discovery, a Vauxhall Corsa and a Mitsubishi Outlander, Metro.co.uk reported. He suffered head and knee injuries in the crash and spent two days in hospital.

Prosecutor Brian Reece told Isleworth Crown Court that Al-Husseini, a delivery driver for a newspaper company in London, was filmed traveling at speeds of up to 92mph. The speed limit in central London is 30mph. He said the Audi was traveling so fast it became airborne at a junction, “at which point the defendant, as the driver, would have no control over it — and just across that junction is Moore Street, which is the place where some extremely valuable vehicles are parked.”

Reece added: “He gave the context of having been himself in a hit-and-run incident that he attributed to the driver of the McLaren SLR, and thought he was in pursuit of the SLR in Lennox Gardens four to five hours later.

“He claimed he had no recollection of the incident. He had had a full license for about a year and had no previous convictions. Settlement figures given in interview were between half a million and a million pounds for damage to these cars.”

Tony Nayager, defending, said: “If he’s going to drive at that speed then he’s going to bear the consequences. He’s readily in acceptance of his culpability for this matter.

“Perhaps Mr Al-Husseini is feeling rather sorry for himself, rather than anyone else. The car belonged to his father’s former partner; this later broke down their relationship and also his relationship with his father.”

Judge Sarah Paneth told Al-Husseini that only Audi engineering had saved him and a passenger in his car from serious injury or death.

“I’m not so much concerned about the value of these vehicles in monetary terms, it is the number of vehicles and the fact that to any of the people who owned these vehicles, Vauxhalls or Porsche Cayennes, they were all valuable,” she said.

“Whatever the value of the vehicles was, I have to look at the fact that you caused extensive damage to a very large number of vehicles. Damage to these vehicles was caused by you driving far too fast. It is frankly a miracle that no one was seriously hurt, perhaps other than you.”

In addition to the suspended prison sentence, Al-Husseini was banned from driving for two years. Under UK law he will have to pass an extended driving test to regain his license.


Biden’s US revives support for WHO, reversing Trump retreat

NIH National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Anthony Fauci addresses the daily press briefing at the White House in Washington, DC, January 21, 2021. (REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)
NIH National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Anthony Fauci addresses the daily press briefing at the White House in Washington, DC, January 21, 2021. (REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)
Updated 45 min 38 sec ago

Biden’s US revives support for WHO, reversing Trump retreat

NIH National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Anthony Fauci addresses the daily press briefing at the White House in Washington, DC, January 21, 2021. (REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)
  • President Joe Biden’s top adviser on the pandemic, Dr. Anthony Fauci, says the US will again fund the WHO
  • Trump's US halted funding for the UN health agency — stripping it of badly needed cash as it was battling a health crisis

GENEVA: The United States will resume funding for the World Health Organization and join its consortium aimed at sharing coronavirus vaccines fairly around the globe, President Joe Biden’s top adviser on the pandemic said Thursday, renewing support for an agency that the Trump administration had pulled back from.
Dr. Anthony Fauci’s quick commitment to the WHO — whose response to the pandemic has been criticized by many, but perhaps most vociferously by the Trump administration — marks a dramatic and vocal shift toward a more cooperative approach to fighting the pandemic.
“I am honored to announce that the United States will remain a member of the World Health Organization,” Fauci told a virtual meeting of the WHO from the United States, where it was 4:10 a.m. in Washington. It was the first public statement by a member of Biden’s administration to an international audience — and a sign of the priority that the new president has made of fighting COVID-19 both at home and with world partners.
Just hours after Biden’s inauguration Wednesday, he wrote a letter to UN Secretary-General Antonio Gutteres saying the US had reversed the planned pullout from the WHO that was expected to take effect in July.
The withdrawal from the WHO was rich with symbolism — another instance of America’s go-it-alone strategy under Trump. But it also had practical ramifications: The US halted funding for the UN health agency — stripping it of cash from the country that has long been its biggest donor just as the agency was battling the health crisis that has killed more than 2 million people worldwide. The US had also pulled back staff from the organization.
Fauci said the Biden administration will resume “regular engagement” with WHO and will “fulfill its financial obligations to the organization.”
The WHO chief and others jumped in to welcome the US announcements.
“This is a good day for WHO and a good day for global health,” Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said. “The role of the United States, its role, global role is very, very crucial.”
The two men hinted at a warm relationship between them, with Fauci calling Tedros his “dear friend” and Tedros referring to Fauci as “my brother Tony.”
The White House said later Thursday that Vice President Kamala Harris had discussed many of the same themes as Fauci raised in a call with Tedros.
But she emphasized the need to beef up the global response to COVID-19, “mitigate its secondary impacts, including on women and girls,” and work to “prevent the next outbreak from becoming an epidemic or pandemic,” the White House said in a statement.
“In addition, the vice president emphasized the importance of making America safer through global cooperation,” it added, highlighting the new tone out of Washington.
John Nkengasong, director of the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, called the renewed commitment “great news” in an email. “The world has always been a better place when the US plays a leadership role in solving global health problems including the fight against HIV/AIDS, malaria, polio and other diseases,” he said.
Danish Health Minister Magnus Heunicke wrote on Facebook: “This is going to have a huge impact on the world’s ability to fight the pandemic. It is decisive that the United States is involved as a driving force and not a country that is looking for the exit when a global catastrophe rages.”
Fauci also said Biden will issue a directive Thursday that shows the United States’ intent to join the COVAX Facility, a project to deploy COVID-19 vaccines to people in need around the world — whether in rich or poor countries.
Under Trump, the US had been the highest-profile — and most deep-pocketed — holdout from the COVAX Facility, which has struggled to meet its goals of distributing millions of vaccines both because of financial and logistic difficulties.
WHO and leaders in many developing countries have repeatedly expressed concerns that poorer places could be the last to get COVID-19 vaccines, while noting that leaving vast swaths of the global population unvaccinated puts everyone at risk.
While vowing US support, Fauci also pointed to some key challenges facing WHO. He said the US was committed to “transparency, including those events surrounding the early days of the pandemic.”
One of the Trump administration’s biggest criticisms was that the WHO reacted too slowly to the outbreak in Wuhan, China, and was too accepting of and too effusive about the Chinese government’s response to it. Others have also shared those criticisms — but public health experts and many countries have argued that, while the organization needs reform, it remains vital.
Referring to a WHO-led probe looking for the origins of the coronavirus by a team that is currently in China, Fauci said: “The international investigation should be robust and clear, and we look forward to evaluating it.”
He said the US would work with WHO and partner countries to “strengthen and reform” the agency, without providing specifics.
At the White House later in the day, Fauci quipped to Jeff Zients, who is directing the national response to the coronavirus, “You can imagine the comments we were getting from the people in the WHO.”
Then he added, his voice trailing off, “They were lining up to thank ...”