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Norwich headteacher backs driving scheme after tragic death

PUBLISHED: 06:47 23 April 2013

Joseph Salah-Eldin's Vauxhall Corsa after the crash which caused David Powell to die.

Joseph Salah-Eldin's Vauxhall Corsa after the crash which caused David Powell to die.

Norfolk Constabulary

A Norwich headteacher has given his backing to a scheme aimed at warning youngsters in schools about the dangers of getting behind the wheel.

Norfolk police are writing to every high school and college in the county to try and encourage them to take up a hard-hitting presentation which demonstrate the dangers associated with driving.

The plea comes 19-year-old Joseph Salah-Eldin starts a three-year four month prison sentence after admitting causing death by careless driving when unfit through drink after his friend David Powell, 20, died following a crash on the A149 in September last year.

It emerged Salah-Eldin had only passed his test two months before the crash, was found to be twice legal drink drive limit and travelling at speeds of up to 101mph in a 40mph zone.

Since the crash, in which three other young people in the car were injured, including the defendant, PC Andy Nattrass of the Roads Policing Unit at Norfolk Constabulary has been appointed Young Education Co-ordinator and has been tasked with reaching every 16-year-old in the county to pass on the safer driving message.

PC Nattrass, who is already a Family Liaison Officer supporting relatives of those who are killed and seriously injured on Norfolk’s roads, has written to every high school and college in the county to get them to take up a hard-hitting presentation which demonstrates the dangers associated with driving.

Rob Anthony, associate headteacher of the Hewett School in Norwich, said he fully supported taking the presentation to schools.

He said: “We have quite a lot of students in the sixth form learning to drive and I think it’s a really important thing.

”Anything that can get the message across is very important - young people don’t realise death and injury by driving is one of the biggest killers of young people of that age. It’s very, very important.”

Mr Anthony said he would be interested in having the presentation at the Hewett School which regularly brought in people from “outside” to talk to teenagers about different issues.

He said: “We look forward to receiving the letter and taking it further forward.”

PC Nattrass said he hoped this tragic case would prompt a response from both schools and the young people who the presentation is aimed at.

He said: “Every young driver can learn lessons from this sad case. It starkly illustrates the consequences of drinking and driving, and you are six times more likely as a young driver to have a collision when driving with your friends than you are if driving on your own. Your actions behind the wheel impact upon so many lives, not least your own if you are banned from driving and receive a conviction that may affect your job prospects.

“I have written to every headteacher in charge of a high school or college in Norfolk, inviting them to get in touch so we can educate the next generation of drivers who will be looking forward to getting their provisional licence. We deliver a hard-hitting presentation showing the dangers young motorists and their passengers face with video reconstructions and testimony from those who have been victims of a collision involving a young driver.”

Yesterday at Norwich Crown Court heard Salah-Eldin, of Wallace Twite Way, Dersingham, was also banned from driving for five years after being sentenced following the crash on the A149 Lynn Road at Heacham on September 29 in which Mr Powell died.

Mr Powell, of Woodside Avenue, Dersingham, was killed instantly in the crash which happened on the Lynn Road at about 12.20am after the Vauxhall Corsa being driven by Salah-Eldin lost control and overturned in a field.

Jailing Salah-Eldin, Judge Stephen Holt said: “No words I can say will possibly help the friends and family. It’s an utter tragedy that has occurred.”

The judge, who recognised the defendant was “deeply remorseful” but said: “It’s said time and time again in these courts young drivers who speed cause these sort of terrible events which ruin people’s lives.”

He added cases like this go to show “just how dangerous it is for anyone, let alone young drivers, to be drinking”.

Chris Youell, prosecuting, said Salah-Eldin, of Wallace Twite Way, Dersingham, who had only passed his test, at the third attempt, two months before the crash, was travelling at an “excessive speed” and “adjusting the sound system in the car” at the time he lost control of the car which swerved across carriageway before hitting a pavement, hedge and repeatedly rolling before coming to a rest on its roof in an adjoining field.

Mr Youell said Salah-Eldin, who suffered a dislocated shoulder, was believed to be driving between 74mph and 101mph on a stretch of road with a 40mph limit where he crashed.

He said the defendant, who had been drinking with friends at the Dersingham Social Club earlier in the evening, was later subjected to a roadside breath test found to have 65microgrames of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath. The legal limit is 35.

Jonathan Morgans, mitigating, said Salah-Eldin wanted to express his “remorse” and apologies for what had happened.

He said: “He takes full responsibility for his actions and the result of his actions is that his best friend has died. He misses him and its his fault. There’s nothing he can do to turn back the clock but his remorse is total as is his regret.

“He has real insight into the family’s loss because he shares it. To apologise can only ever be inadequate but it’s heartfelt and sincere. He will have to live with the consequences of his actions forever.”

Chief Inspector Chris Spinks of the Norfolk and Suffolk Roads Policing Unit said: “This tragic incident has had an enormous impact on the lives of all those involved, their friends and their families. One young man has had his life cut short, and another faces time in prison and must live with the consequences of his actions for the rest of his life. Two other young men have experienced first-hand the dangers of drinking and driving.

“Salah-Eldin had only passed his driving test a couple of months before the collision. He admitted consuming six units of alcohol before he got into the car, but did not feel drunk so drove anyway. It shows you simply cannot rely on your judgement - the only way to be sure is not to drink at all.

“All four young men were wearing their seatbelts, but sadly this was not enough to save the life of David Powell and I would like to offer my sympathies to his family at this difficult time.”

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