COVID-19 scientist convicted of killing talented musician as he sped towards City of London traffic lights

General view of the Central Criminal Court, Old Bailey, London (Daniel Leal-Olivas/PA) (PA Archives)

General view of the Central Criminal Court, Old Bailey, London (Daniel Leal-Olivas/PA) (PA Archives)

A scientist who helped fight Covid has been jailed for hitting and killing a talented musician as he rushed to “avoid traffic lights” on a night out.

Ibnu Rizwan, 28, was drinking with friends and driving a rented VW Polo when he ran over David Joseph Evans, 32, in the City of London.

The Old Bailey heard Rizwan speed up, trying to get through a set of traffic lights before they turned red, leaving him just 1.28 seconds to brake as Mr Evans stepped into the car’s path.

The court heard that four people were allowed to travel in Rizwan’s rental car, but the vehicle was overloaded with the driver and five passengers.

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

He was driving over 30mph in a 20mph zone when he hit Mr Evans and may have exceeded the drink driving limit, the Old Bailey heard.

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

“Alcohol consumption affected driving, awareness and decision-making to some degree,” he said.

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

The judge said Evans was “a very gifted and very lovable man who had his whole life ahead of him.

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

The court was presented with a number of statements, including one from its NHS boss, who praised him as “honest and hard-working” and referred to his work on Covid, monkey pox and other viruses.

Mr Evans – known to friends and family as Joseph – suffered a brain injury in the accident and was pronounced dead after five days in a coma.

His family established a woodland area in his hometown of Glamorgan in Wales known as “Joseph’s Wood” and paid tribute to his musical and artistic talent.

The court heard that he had studied medicine at King’s College, Cambridge before obtaining a degree in fine arts from Central St Martins, London, and was training for an MA when he died.

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

The court heard that Mr Evans had been watching a rugby match with a friend on the night of the accident and had taken the tube to the bank after the match was over.

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

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

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

Ms Kodikara told the court that Rizwan failed a roadside breathalyzer test, but was under the legal limit when he was tested a second time.

“He said he was training boxing and then met with three colleagues,” the prosecutor said.

Rizwan told police they shared a bottle of Jack Daniels with Pepsi and drank a bottle of Magnum Tonic while standing in line at a bar in Tooting.

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

“It could not be proven that Mr. Rizwan exceeded the legal limit at the time (of the crash).”

The court heard that Rizwan “should have stopped seeing the amber light, but instead he sped up.”

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

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

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

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

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