Motorist jailed for causing death of student as she crossed the road

Neel Balu, a 43-year-old motorist who knocked over and killed a student as she crossed a pedestrian crossing in Great Barr, has been jailed for six years after he was found guilty of causing her death by dangerous driving.

On 24th February 2016 at around 8:30am, Zoe Shapiro (pictured, right), 17, was walking along the A34 Birmingham Road, on her way to college. She was on a traffic light controlled pedestrian crossing on when she was struck by a Mercedes Sprinter van driven by the defendant.

A jury at Birmingham Crown Court heard that Neel Balu (left) had a string of motoring convictions, including speeding and careless driving. Balu had failed to advise his insurance company of the convictions.

Witnesses observed the van travelling at speed and failing to stop despite the pedestrian lights being on red. Investigators concluded that Balu was driving his van above the 30mph speed limit when he struck the victim. He was arrested and during police interview suggested that his view had been obscured by water on his windscreen and the position of the sun. However CCTV from a location near his home suggested that his windscreen had been clear and motorists travelling in the same direction had seen Zoe Shapiro on the crossing.

Anjuli Shergill, Senior Crown Prosecutor with West Midlands Crown Prosecution Service, said: “Despite overwhelming evidence, Neel Balu refused to accept that he drove in a dangerous manner which ultimately caused the death of causing Zoe Shapiro. However, a jury has found him guilty.

“Our thoughts are with Zoe’s family and friends who have behaved with great dignity throughout these proceedings.”

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