Page last updated at 13:37 GMT, Monday, 22 December 2008

Texting death crash peer in court

Lord Ahmed
Lord Ahmed suffered facial injuries in the collision

The sentencing of a Labour peer who sent and received text messages while driving on the M1 where he was involved in a fatal crash has been adjourned.

Lord Ahmed, 51, of Rotherham, was driving his Jaguar when he collided with another car on Christmas Day 2007.

The driver of the vehicle, Martyn Gombar, 28, was killed.

Lord Ahmed, who admits driving dangerously, appeared before Sheffield magistrates on Monday. The case will go before the crown court on 19 January.

Sheffield Magistrates' Court heard how Lord Ahmed received three text messages and sent two while driving on the M1, between junctions 40 and 35, near Rotherham.

This man is not responsible for any accident. What he is responsible for is stupidity. I say that because it is a word he has used himself
Solicitor Steve Smith

Some time after sending and receiving the text messages, he collided with Mr Gombar's Audi, which had stopped in the outside lane after crashing into the central reservation.

Steve Smith, Lord Ahmed's solicitor, told the court the peer was "rendered momentarily unconscious" by the impact of the crash and suffered a very serious head injury.

Lord Ahmed was never charged over the crash but admitted one charge of dangerous driving in connection with sending and receiving the text messages while driving.

Mr Smith said: "This man is not responsible for any accident. What he is responsible for is stupidity. I say that because it is a word he has used himself."

'Bad driving'

The solicitor said that despite being told otherwise, his client still felt responsible for Mr Gombar's death.

"He still walks within that shadow and I think he always will," he said.

District Judge Mark Hadfield said this was a case of "prolonged driving, which is clearly bad driving and dangerous driving".

He told Lord Ahmed he drove "without regard to yourself, your passengers and other road users".

He said the aggravating features meant Lord Ahmed should be sentenced in the crown court.

He was released on bail and an interim driving ban, imposed at an earlier hearing, was extended until his next court appearance.

Lord Ahmed was appointed to the House of Lords in 1998 and has lived in Rotherham, South Yorkshire, since childhood.

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