Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Fugitive bus driver who decapitated passenger in horror crash is jailed after going on run

A bus driver who went on the run after being found guilty of decapitating one of his passengers in a horror smash has been jailed for four years.

Raouf Mraidi, 30, fled from the UK after it emerged he ran a red light in his double-decker and smashed into a tram and a BMW.

One of the his passengers, 28-year-old Andrzei Karcz, died in the accident in Croydon on September 7 2008 after being thrown through the front window of the bus.

He was decapitated. Six other passengers were injured.

Mraidi was charged with causing death by dangerous driving after a court heard how his 468 bus caused a trail of devastation, hitting a tram, shop fronts and a BMW before coming to a halt.

Mraidi, a French Tunisian, appeared before Croydon magistrates in May 2009, but was bailed ahead of his trial, which was set for December of that year.

Although he had his passport confiscated, Mraidi - who was living in Bermondsey at the time of the crash - was able to abscond to his native France using an identity card that allows people to travel freely between European countries.

He was jailed for four years in his absence after he failed to show for the trial at Croydon Crown Court, with the judge, Warwick McKinnon saying finding him in France would be like 'searching for a needle in a haystack'.

He was also featured on BBC's Crimewatch and was listed as one of the UK's most wanted criminals.

But after a five-month manhunt by the Metropolitan Police and French officers, he was tracked down on May 26 this year.

He subsequently appealed against an extradition order but was returned to Britain earlier this month.

Andrzei Karcz, 28, died in the accident after being thrown through the front window of the bus. He was decapitated

A jury at Croydon Crown Court took just 25 minutes to find the Frenchman guilty after reviewing the evidence against him on Friday.

As a result of him fleeing the country the court imposed a further four months in prison on top of Mraidi's original four-year sentence.

PC Ian Payne, who investigated the crash, said: 'We have remained committed to bringing this man to justice and the extradition means that he will finally serve his prison sentence.

'Mraidi made the decision to flee the country and not face the consequences of his actions.
'Through our continued investigation and the assistance of the French authorities we were able to trace him.

'Mr Karcz died needlessly in a devastating traffic collision and I hope that today his family will gain some small comfort from the knowledge that Mraidi is finally serving his sentence.'

A source said: 'This guy knew he had done wrong and that he had caused the horrific death of a young man by his dangerous driving.

'He managed to get out of the UK despite not having a passport and was being sheltered in France by friends.

'After a lot of work by both the Met and French police he was tracked down to a small house in France and after a relatively simple legal process he was extraditing back to Britain to face justice.'

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