A young P-plate driver responsible for a high-speed crash in the Royal National Park that killed his best friend has been sentenced to three-and-a-half years jail.
Liverpool's Mohsen Sleiman was driving his Nissan Silvia 200SX at almost 100km/h along Lade Wakehurst Drive on April 25, 2020, when he lost control of the vehicle and hit a large tree, instantly killing his passenger and best friend, Emrah Nokic.
In Wollongong District Court on Friday, Judge Andrew Haesler found Sleiman had been driving too fast, on a road he did not know, in a modified performance car that as a P-plater he was not legally allowed to drive, for the purpose of "showing off".
"He had a very inflated idea about his capacity and experience as a driver," Judge Haesler said.
"He took extreme risks, and another young man paid the ultimate price for that risk taking. He abandoned his responsibility as a driver to other road users."
Judge Haesler set a non-parole period of two years, meaning Sleiman will be released from custody in May 2024.
The court heard Sleiman and Mr Nokic, who shared a love of cars, had made arrangements that morning via Instagram to meet up and go for a drive in Sleiman's Nissan.
Two lots of video footage shot by Mr Nokic and automatically uploaded to his Instagram account showed the Nissan travelling at speed and crossing onto the wrong side of the road along the narrow and winding Lady Wakehurst Drive.
One of the videos, which goes for eight seconds, ends just moments before the crash, prosecutors said.
Sleiman was subsequently charged with dangerous driving occasioning death and failing to give assistance after an impact causing death - the latter charge relating to revelations he failed to call Triple Zero immediately after the crash, instead contacting a close friend and using his phone to shoot three short videos of his totalled car.
It still distresses me to this day that I had to find out my son had died in the way I did.
Sleiman pleaded guilty to the dangerous driving charge and was found guilty of the failing to assist charge after four-day trial last month.
In court on Friday, Judge Haesler said Sleiman grew up in western Sydney with four brothers and sister. A background report describing him as a quiet child who had a borderline mild intellectual disability.
He gained a plumbing apprenticeship when he left school and has been employed ever since.
Judge Haesler accepted that Sleiman had shown remorse for what he'd done, noting he'd written a letter of apology to Mr Nokic's father, however said now-21-year-old still did not appreciate how "seriously criminal" his actions were.
"This may in some way be explained by his intellectual deficits, but he still shows little understanding of his legal and moral culpability for causing a death and for a criminal offence carrying a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment," he said.
Meanwhile, Mr Nokic's father, Mensur Nokic, revealed in a victim impact statement read out in court that he learned of his son's death after seeing pictures of the crash posted on Facebook.
"It still distresses me to this day that I had to find out my son had died in the way I did," he said.
"My son didn't deserve to die and suffer the injuries he did."
Mr Nokic said his son was a well behaved student who loved school.
"He was was fluent in three languages and he loved maths and science," he said.
Mr Nokic revealed he has been diagnosed with complex bereavement disorder, still has trouble sleeping at night and cannot watch news programs, especially if they involve car accidents.
Read more Illawarra court and crime stories here.
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