Qatari businessman avoids jail for causing pedestrian’s death with Rolls-Royce

·2-min read
Hassan Nasser Al-Thani arrives at the Old Bailey in London (Ian West/PA) (PA Wire)
Hassan Nasser Al-Thani arrives at the Old Bailey in London (Ian West/PA) (PA Wire)

A businessman who killed a pedestrian while speeding in his purple Rolls-Royce near Buckingham Palace has avoided jail.

Qatari Hassan Nasser Al-Thani, 42, was driving at almost double the 30mph limit when he crashed the Rolls-Royce Wraith into Charles Roberts on August 22 2019.

The 66-year-old died at the scene in Duke of Wellington Place.

On Tuesday, Al-Thani pleaded guilty to causing death by careless driving and was sentenced to eight months’ imprisonment, suspended for two years.

If you had been driving at or within the speed limit his death would have been avoided

Judge Richard Marks QC

Sentencing, Judge Richard Marks QC said Al-Thani was driving near Hyde Park Corner having been out to dinner with a friend.

Mr Roberts had stepped into the road to cross as Al-Thani set off when traffic lights turned green.

Judge Marks said: “I am entirely satisfied from the evidence that if you had been driving at or within the speed limit his death would have been avoided.”

Having been stopped at traffic lights, the defendant had accelerated away at speeds of up to 54 mph before braking as he approached the victim, the court heard.

The judge went on: “You were to tell the police – clearly incorrectly – that you had moved off slowly from the lights when suddenly and without warning someone ran out in front of your car. The evidence tells a very different story.

“Shortly prior to the impact you were driving at a speed that was not far short of twice the legal limit and therein, in my judgment, lies the seriousness of this offence.”

Al-Thani saw Mr Roberts “very late” and the only explanation was that he was “simply not paying attention”, the judge added.

The defendant, from Prince of Wales Terrace, Kensington, west London had previously denied the charge when he appeared by video-link from Qatar at earlier hearings.

The court heard how Al-Thani was the registered owner of the Rolls-Royce with Qatari number plates, which has since been sold.

In the crash, the vehicle’s windscreen was smashed and front headlight damaged.

In a prepared statement given to police at the time, Al-Thani expressed sadness at the death and offered his condolences to Mr Roberts’s family and friends.

Mr Roberts was a recently retired Network Rail signalling manager from Harpenden, Hertfordshire.

A statement read on behalf of the victim’s family outlined the devastation of Mr Roberts’s brother.

The family said: “It is a relief to him the driver responsible is to be held to account.”

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