Bangladeshi Uber driver found guilty over passenger's death in Sydney
03:39 PM, November 27, 2018 / LAST MODIFIED: 03:47 PM, November 27, 2018

Bangladeshi Uber driver found guilty over passenger's death in Sydney

An Uber driver whose passenger died when he got out of the car and was hit by a bus in Sydney's central business district has been found guilty of negligent driving occasioning death.

The Uber driver, Nazrul Islam, 32, had denied responsibility around the death of 30-year-old Englishman Samuel Thomas, who was struck at the intersection of Elizabeth and Bathurst streets shortly after 3:00am on June 17, 2017, reports The Sydney Morning Herald yesterday.

Magistrate Mary Ryan, in Downing Centre Local Court on Monday, found that the driver "did not keep a proper lookout" before accelerating when Thomas opened the passenger door.

Ryan informed that both of the victim's "intoxicated" friends were awoken by the sound of the door - as captured on CCTV on the bus - and the internal light of Islam's car also came on. "Six seconds of light within the car is a significant warning and, in my view, Mr Islam should have been alerted to something being amiss, ... only explanation is that Mr Islam was much more fatigued than he admitted" quoting Mary Ryan, reports The Sydney Morning Herald.

The magistrate found the driver had worked for 21 hours before the incident and was not convinced that he had slept during his breaks for as long as he testified.

"I find that he is guilty of the charge of negligent driving occasioning death beyond a reasonable doubt," reports The Sydney Morning Herald, quoting magistrate Mary Ryan.

Nazrul Islam testified at his hearing in Downing Centre Local Court earlier this month that neither the victim nor his two friends, Greg Hensman and Stephen Ronning, had asked him to stop the Uber before the light went green.

Under questioning from his barrister Ali Cheema, Islam said he arrived from Bangladesh in early 2013 but only became an Uber driver three weeks before the incident reports The Sydney Morning Herald.

Under cross-examination from police prosecutor Stuart Coote, Islam said he had not worked as a professional driver before he started with Uber in late May 2017.

Islam had been driving on and off since 6:00am the previous day but had taken breaks and slept, the report said.

"I was ready to drive Friday night as long as possible because it would be a busy night," The trio had been heading home after attending a birthday party in Strathfield. Islam said he couldn't recall the "exact destination" the three men had requested but "my GPS was advising me still four to five minutes to go",  The Sydney Morning Herald reports quoting Nazrul Islam.

Hensman gave evidence earlier that he was in the back seat when he heard a door open and turned to see Thomas "stepping out" of the car which was "in the process of moving". "The car pulls away and then he fell. I just thought he'd fallen over but then we get out and saw what we did," quoting Greg Hensman reports The Sydney morning Herald.

Ronning, who was in the front passenger seat, gave evidence in August that his friend didn't say anything before opening the door.He said the car was stopped at a red light when he heard the left rear door open, and turned from the passenger seat to see Mr Thomas "in the motion of getting out" behind him. Thomas went under the back wheels of the bus and died instantly.

"I turned across to the other side to notify the driver... and at that point, I heard a loud pop as the car moved off,… then the car stopped within a second of that and I hopped out of the car and saw Sam on the road.",  reports The Sydney Morning Herald quoting Stephen Ronning.

Islam said he was "shivering" and "nervous" after stopping the car and being confronted with the body of his passenger on the road with an "injured" head.

"I was very scared and I called police immediately," quoting Nazrul Islam reports The Sydney Morning Herald.

Footage from one of the bus's cameras shows Islam's car stopping on the right side of the bus at the intersection. The victim opens a back door before both vehicles accelerate and he falls into the path of the bus.

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