Man jailed over death of friend in Perth drag race

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A Pakistani student has been sentenced to two years in jail over the death of his friend during a drag race in suburban Thornlie. Muhammad Uzair Saleem, 23, was found guilty by a Perth jury of dangerous driving causing the death of 19-year-old Nadeem Kahn in June 2014.

The District Court was told the pair had just left a friend’s house in separate cars and started to race each other when they took off from a set of traffic lights on Spencer Road.

They travelled about 400 metres when Mr Kahn lost control of his car.

It skidded and slid across the road, mounting the kerb, the footpath and a grass verge, before smashing through a brick wall and catching fire.

Mr Kahn died at the scene.

Witnesses testified the cars had been travelling about 100 kilometres per hour in the 60kph zone in the lead up to the crash.

Judge Stephen Scott said while it may never be known exactly why Mr Kahn lost control of his vehicle, he was satisfied the crash was caused by both cars being raced at speed.

He told Saleem this “affected Mr Kahn’s ability to maintain effective control of his vehicle, given it was likely his attention was being diverted to racing with your vehicle”.

Saleem’s lawyer Johnathan Davies had urged the judge to impose a suspended prison sentence, arguing his client was otherwise of good character and had been deeply affected by the death of his friend.

However, Judge Scott said an immediate jail term had to be imposed to send a message to the community that drivers needed to be responsible on the roads.

“The road toll in this state is horrific and somehow a line needs to be drawn in the sand,” he said.

“Drivers, particularly young drivers, need to realise how lethal motor vehicles can be when they’re not driven in a careful and attentive manner.”

Saleem will have to serve 12 months before he can be released on parole.

Outside the court Saleem’s cousin Mohammad Suhaib said he was disappointed a suspended jail term was not imposed.

“He’s just 23 years old and he’s a student and he’s come here for a bright future and he unintentionally [did] that. That is not good for a student,” he said.

Mr Suhaib also said his cousin was deeply upset by the death of his friend.

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