LONDON – The trial of bus driver Shahriar Firouzian came to an abrupt end yesterday when the prosecution withdrew its case and he was acquitted of causing the death of Singaporean Tan Mingwei by careless driving.
“After reviewing the evidence yesterday, the CPS (Crown Prosecution Service) is satisfied that there is no longer a realistic prospect of conviction and it no longer seeks to take the proceedings further,” said prosecution counsel Hamish Reid.
Mr Firouzian, 52, sighed but was expressionless when Judge John Hillen directed that a “not guilty” verdict be entered and discharged him from the dock.
His lawyer Chandrakant Solanki said: “My client is very relieved that this case is now over.
It’s taken almost two years to be resolved. He’s very conscious of the loss suffered by Miss Tan’s family and friends. This whole matter has been a tragedy for all parties concerned.”
The acquitted man thanked his friends, family, the defence experts and his legal team for their support and help.
He was on trial for causing the death of Miss Tan, 20, a third-year medical student at Cambridge University, by driving carelessly on Sept 30, 2010.
She died from extensive internal injuries after being dragged under the bus for nearly a kilometre. Passers-by discovered her body in Belsize Park in north-west London.
In his statement to the police on Oct 2, 2010, Mr Firouzian said he had driven normally and thought his bus had run over a fox that night.
Miss Tan was the younger daughter of Singapore playwright and senior research fellow Tan Tarn How, 51, and his wife, a dentist. Mr Tan was not available for comment.
The trial, which began last week, heard expert witnesses from both the prosecution and defence.
In the absence of conclusive closed-circuit television (CCTV) footage of or eyewitnesses to the bus hitting her, the prosecution had to rely on experts, camera footage and evidence found at the scene to recreate what happened that night as Miss Tan made her way to Hampstead to see family friends.
A Crown Prosecution Service spokesman said that during the course of the trial, some key aspects of the prosecution evidence, particularly with regard to expert evidence, were undermined.
“This weakened the prosecution case and meant we were unable to prove that Shahriar Firouzian had driven at a standard which was below that of a competent and careful driver,” he said.
The court had heard that CCTV footage from inside Mr Firouzian’s bus showed the bus had slowed to 3kmh as he turned right into Pond Street. The footage also showed him moving his head while making the turn.
Collision investigator Christopher Thorne conceded under cross-examination that “from the CCTV I can’t see that he’s doing anything wrong”.
In summing up, Judge Hillen reminded the court that while Mr Firouzian could not be blamed for the accident, “there’s a family who’s lost a daughter, a sister and a friend”.
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