Dangerous driver jailed for 24 years after being identified from witness' uncanny pencil sketch

This sketch helped police catch habitual criminal Danny Smith

A dangerous driver who left a 20-year-old motorcyclist to die in the road has been jailed for 24 years after police identified him from an eye-witness' pencil sketch.

Danny Smith, 44, from Chigwell, was trying to overtake two cars on Hainault Road in Redbridge, east London, when his grey Audi collided with Saleem Ahmed in December.

Mr Ahmed, who had been travelling to his home in Redbridge after visiting his brother in Romford, was left with catastrophic injuries and died at the scene.

Saleem Ahmed, 20, died after Danny Smith crashed into him while trying to overtake two cars in front of him

A witness who had seen Smith driving erratically for 30 minutes prior to the collision, drew a sketch that proved to be key in identifying him.

Smith was stopped by police in February after driving erratically in Waltham Forest and was arrested despite attempting to escape.

He pleaded guilty to a range of offences including the fatal collision and burglary and robbery offences targeting the elderly.

He was sentenced at Snaresbrook Crown Court on Monday 5 September.

Two days before crashing into Mr Ahmed, Smith pushed and threatened an elderly woman at her home in Havering after falsely claiming he had damaged her fence and wanted to fix it, before making off with cash and personal items.

On February 1 this year, he stole money from an elderly man in Ilford after entering his home under false pretences.

Four days later he stole a vehicle from a car showroom in Romford while pretending to show interest in buying it.

The Metropolitan Police said “Inquiries revealed that the vehicle was on false plates and it was same one that had been stolen from the showroom in Romford.

“Smith was found in possession of stolen items, while police checks revealed he was wanted in connection with the fatal collision.

“Forensic evidence would place him inside the Audi that collided with Saleem, while the sketch provided by the witness – bearing an uncanny resemblance to Smith – would help prove he was the driver.

The Metropolitan Police said "the weight of evidence" against Smith left the habitual criminal with "no option but to plead guilty".

Danny Smith was jailed for 24 years Credit: Metropolitan Police/PA

Saleem’s family said in a statement: "My son was taken in such cruel circumstances, that for years to come it will affect us all as a family, our friends and our community.

"I will forever be thankful to the witnesses on the night of the incident; the help they gave to my son, comforting him as he passed away and to the ones who helped bring Danny Smith to justice, I will be forever grateful."

Driving and robbery offences committed by Danny Smith:

  • Causing death by dangerous driving

  • Causing death by driving whilst disqualified

  • Causing death by driving unlicensed/uninsured driver

  • Driver of vehicle that failed to stop after road accident

  • Robbery

  • Burglary

  • Handling Stolen Goods

  • Criminal damage to property valued over £5,000

  • Theft of motor vehicle

  • Using a vehicle without insurance

  • Dangerous driving

  • Driving while disqualified

  • Driving a motor vehicle otherwise than in accordance with a licence

Detective Inspector Julie Trodden, from the Met's Serious Collision Investigation Unit, praised the bravery of the victim's family and the members of the public who stopped to try and help Mr Ahmed.

"It can only be said that Smith’s actions were reckless, dangerous and entirely avoidable,” she said.

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