Show-off Shennie Jaffer jailed for death crash which killed Narmara Whisker
A DRINK-driver who careered off a city centre bridge, killing a young mum, had been driving with no licence or insurance for 13 years.
A court heard Shennie Jaffer had more than twice the legal limit of alcohol in his breath when tested, nearly three hours after losing control of his BMW car in Passage Street and plunging into the Floating Harbour.
Jaffer, below, and three passengers escaped but 22-year-old Narmara Whisker, who had only recently become a mother, drowned.
Bristol Crown Court heard Jaffer, of Robertson Road, Easton, had been showing off and refused to slow down or stop even though his terrified passengers – who included his pregnant girlfriend – pleaded with him before the accident at 4am on October 20.
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Bristol Crown Court heard that although the car landed in water that was only just over one metre deep, front seat passenger Ms Whisker had banged her head and was trapped.
Jaffer dived into the water several times but his frantic efforts to free her failed and she drowned.
The court heard the 31-year-old then went home, where police later found him and his girlfriend, next to wet clothes.
Disoriented Jaffer initially told them they were "corrupt" in targeting him, before saying: "I tried to help her."
Jaffer was jailed for six years and eight months yesterday after pleading guilty to causing death by dangerous driving, driving with excess alcohol and driving without insurance or a proper driving licence.
He had previous convictions for failing to stop after an accident in 2004, when he was banned for a year, and failing to provide a breath specimen in 2009, when he was banned for two years.
Rachel Garstang, prosecuting, said Jaffer was seen driving his car in the car park of the Byzantium bar and restaurant in Portwall Lane, where he was doing handbrake turns and spinning the wheels.
Ms Whisker, who gave birth to a boy four months earlier, was in the front seat while in the back were Jaffer's pregnant girlfriend as well as Ms Whisker's cousin Lheirisha and Melanie Bickford.
Ms Garstang said at one stage a man fell on the windscreen and was thrown onto the roof before CCTV showed the BMW driving from the club at speed.
Witness statements from Lheirisha Whisker and Ms Bickford confirmed how Jaffer was driving "stupidly" but told he laughed and would not stop.
Passengers said he took corners wide and at one point one of them bashed their head on the window.
Ms Garstang said Jaffer lost control and crashed over the side of the bridge.
She said: "The defendant made attempts to free Narmara, pictured right, from the car. The three others got themselves out after he did, they got through the driver's window.
"When they got out the defendant and the other passengers remained, but then left. A security guard noticed the defendant had a strong smell of alcohol."
The court heard police tracked Jaffer to his address by his car registration number and found him and his girlfriend in a bedroom.
A test conducted at 6.44am revealed Jaffer had 76 microgrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath. The limit is 35.
Jaffer told police he had never taken a driving test but had been driving nearly 13 years, almost daily, and felt he could drive well.
He said he had swerved to avoid a bollard and the car's back end stepped out.
Though he initially tried to blame the car for having a malfunction, a vehicle examination found no faults.
A victim personal statement from Narmara's mum, Jean, said the loss of her only daughter meant a piece of her had died.
She wrote: "I'm finding it very hard to come to terms with not seeing her again."
The court heard up to 1,000 people attended Narmara's funeral to celebrate her life.
Timothy Rose, defending, said: "There's nothing we can say that makes this any better.
"The mitigation is the guilty plea, the acceptance and my client's apology, which I don't suppose will be accepted and we understand that.
"That's all the defendant can say. That's all we can do."
Mr Rose said it could not be established how fast his client was driving before the crash.
He stressed that Jaffer stayed at the crash scene at first.
"He swam down into the river and made repeated efforts before he could not carry on any longer," he said.
Mr Rose said eventually his client walked away in shock and was found at home, disorientated, with his wet clothes beside him.
He said: "That disorientation was more than mere alcohol.
"When first spoken to he was aggressive and defensive. But he admitted matters regarding him driving in the police station.
"He was exuberant that night, in an excess of high spirits. Now he is very subdued, quiet and thoughtful and inevitably affected by it."
Passing sentence, Recorder of Bristol, Judge Neil Ford QC, told Jaffer: "Through your crass stupidity and dangerous driving you have killed a popular, vibrant and talented young woman.
"She leaves an infant son and you leave a family devastated.
"They, and you, will have to live with that for the rest of your days.
"You had no intention to cause any harm in this case. You apologise to those you have hurt so grievously. Maybe, in time, they will accept that but at the moment their grief will be very raw indeed."
Jaffer was told to take an extended driving test, banned from driving for seven years, and had his car forfeited.
Members of Ms Whisker's family, who attended court, as well as five supporters of Jaffer, declined to make any comment afterwards.