Covid scientist jailed for killing talented musician when speeding towards City of London traffic lights

Ibnu Rizwan was jailed for killing a pedestrian (City of London Police)
Ibnu Rizwan was jailed for killing a pedestrian (City of London Police)

A scientist who assisted in the battle against Covid has been jailed for hitting and killing a talented musician while speeding to “beat the traffic lights” on a night out.

Ibnu Rizwan, 28, had been out drinking with friends and was behind the wheel of a hired VW Polo when he struck 32-year-old David Joseph Evans in the City of London.

The Old Bailey heard Rizwan had sped up to try to get through a set of traffic lights before they turned red, leaving him with just 1.28 seconds to brake when Mr Evans came into the car’s path.

The court heard four people were permitted in Rizwan’s hire car but the vehicle had been overloaded with the driver and five passengers.

Rizwan, an epidemiologist who was part of Public Health England’s Covid-19 response team, admitted causing death by dangerous driving in the crash on August 8, 2021.

He was travelling at more than 30mph in a 20mph zone when he struck Mr Evans, and may have been over the drink drive limit, the Old Bailey heard.

Judge Nigel Lickley KC sentenced Rizwan to two years in prison.

“Alcohol consumption did, to an extent affect your driving, awareness, and decision-making”, he said.

“You should have stopped at that light. If you had, the collision wouldn’t have occurred.”

The judge said Mr Evans was a “very talented and much-loved man who had his whole life ahead of him.

“The loss of his life and the trauma to others that you caused will be a significant burden to those who knew him.”

The court was presented a series of character statements, including one from his NHS boss who praised him as “honest and hard-working” and referenced his work on Covid, monkeypox, and other viruses.

Mr Evans – known to friends and family as Joseph – suffered brain injuries in the crash and was declared dead after five days in a coma.

His family have established a woodland area in his native Glamorgan in Wales known as “Joseph’s Wood” in his memory, and paid tribute to his talents as a musician and artist.

The court heard he studied medicine at King’s College, Cambridge, before switching to a degree in fine art at Central St Martins in London and was studying for a Masters when he died.

He worked as a performing arts teacher in London, had a passion for acting, and recorded music alongside his brother.

The court heard Mr Evans had been watching a rugby match with a friend on the night of the crash, and took the Tube to Bank after the game ended.

Prosecutor Rekha Kodikara said Mr Evans was running to cross the two-lane road in The Minories, near to Tower Hill tube station.

“It’s clear from the footage that Mr Rizwan’s car was going at high speeds when the limit was 20mph”, she said.

“Had he traveled at the speed limit, Mr Evans would have been able to complete that crossing in time without Rizwan having to take any action to avoid colliding with him.”

Ms Kodikara told the court Rizwan failed a roadside breathalyser test but was below the legal limit when he was tested for a second time.

“He said he had been doing boxing training and met up with three friends afterwards”, said the prosecutor.

Rizwan told police they had been sharing a bottle of Jack Daniels with Pepsi, and he had drunk a bottle of magnum tonic wine while queueing for a bar in Tooting.

“Around midnight, having had no luck with the bars, they decided to go to a club in Shoreditch”, she said. “Mr Rizwan hired a Zipcar, he said he didn’t feel intoxicated.

“It couldn’t be proven that Mr Rizwan was over the legal limit at the time (of the crash).”

The court heard Rizwan “ought to have stopped having seen the amber light, but instead he accelerated”.

In a letter to the judge, Rizwan said: “I am deeply sorry for the pain and suffering caused – it was never my intention to cause harm.”

David Burgess, in mitigation, said Rizwan is “a scientist of considerable talent who has worked hard and contributed to the community, both in that regard and also in the sense of assisting young people in a local club with boxing classes.”

He added: “The consequences of his actions will live with him forever.”

Rizwan, from Wandsworth, pleaded guilty to causing death by dangerous driving.