A woman who accidentally drove her car into worshippers leaving an Eid celebration has been jailed for 16 months.
Marianne Kabah, 42, sparked fears of a terror attack when she ran down seven people, badly injuring two, in her Nissan Juke at Westgate Community College, Newcastle, where between 4-5,000 people had gathered for celebrations on the morning of Sunday June 25.
It was quickly established that she was a worshipper who ran into the pedestrians by accident as she manoeuvred her automatic car off an exit route and onto grass where people were walking.
She was sentenced at Newcastle Crown Court on Monday after previously admitting two counts of causing serious injury by dangerous driving.
Kabah's friends sobbed in court when the verdict was announced and her husband, who had previously suffered a stroke and is cared for by Kabah, collapsed.
Newcastle Crown Court heard how she was leaving the school playing field when she pulled over to talk to some friends.
She needed to increase the power to get the car over a kerb onto the grass, but in so doing, she accelerated into the path of families leaving the venue.
Her speed reached up to 20mph and was finally stopped when someone got into the car and switched the engine off.
PhD student Abdullah Sio, a British citizen originally from Syria, pushed his son out of the path of the car and went under its wheels, suffering multiple fractures. He attended court in a wheelchair.
And seven-year-old Zaryab Rajib was left bloodied and with brain injuries after he was knocked down.
In a statement after the sentencing, his family said the injuries have altered the course of his life.
It said: “Zaryab was an exceptionally bright, happy and independent young boy who loved to play football.
“He is slowly returning to his pre accident life but has a long way to go before he is able to enjoy many of the activities he did before the accident.
“This event has caused a great deal of upset, stress and difficulty for our whole family. We have faced many challenges and are grateful for the support we have received from family, friends and the wider community.”
The court heard Kabah came to this country in 2008 having spent nine years in a refugee camp after fleeing war in Liberia.
Kabah, of Meadow Lane, Gateshead, was also banned from driving for two years.
Speaking after the case Northumbria Police's Sergeant Jason Ryder said it was "extremely lucky" nobody was killed in the incident.
He said: "There has never been anything to suggest that Marianne Kabah intentionally drove into those people at the celebrations last year.
"However, our investigation did find that she drove in a dangerous manner which led to a number of people being seriously injured, some with life changing injuries.
"It is extremely lucky that nobody was killed as a result of her actions but the lives of some of her victims and their families will never be the same again."