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Motorway racer jailed after horrific crash

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By Cam Lucadou Wells

A driver has been jailed after a two-car ‘drag race’ on the Monash Freeway ended in a ‘catastrophic’ crash.

Ahsannullah Rezaie, 22, of Narre Warren South, pleaded guilty in Victoria County Court to negligently causing serious injury to the other driver, dangerous driving and possession of cannabis.

Judge Michael O’Connell said the two drivers left in a convoy from a shisha lounge in Dandenong around 10.30pm on December 28.

Over an eight-kilometer stretch, the pair raced at high speeds and weaved their way through traffic on the freeway lanes heading into town.

A witness recalled his car shaking “violently” as the pair passed him on either side. “It was suicidal,” he told a committal hearing.

“Like accelerating through a group of cars at a speed that I’ve never seen anyone honk their horns before.”

Others have estimated speeds of up to 150 km/h, sometimes with one driver hot on the heels of the other.

It ended in a work zone with a reduced speed limit of 80 km/h, concrete barriers and no emergency lane.

The other driver, Sayed Reza Hashemi, lost control of his ute, crossed four lanes, crashed sideways into a concrete pillar at the Springvale Road overpass and overturned.

Police estimated that Hashemi’s ute began “lacing” at speeds between 110 km/h and 129 km/h.

Rezaie, who was driving in front, did not see the accident. He returned to the scene but did not identify himself to police.

During his subsequent arrest at his home, his Camry’s distinctive black decals were removed.

He denied any involvement in Mr Hashemi’s crash and told police it was ‘unfair’ that he was charged.

Judge O’Connell said that was not unfair at all. Those who run or do races had to understand that they would be held responsible for “catastrophic” results.

Rezaie’s conduct was a “substantial and operational” cause of Mr. Hashemi’s life-threatening injuries and a danger to the public.

Predictably, their “long and scary” journey ended in disaster, Judge O’Connell said.

Mr Hashemi was taken to Alfred Hospital in critical condition with significant head injuries. He underwent emergency brain surgery and was in a coma for two weeks.

His front passenger escaped with minor injuries.

Almost two years later, Mr Hashemi was unlikely to return to full functioning for “many months, if not years, if at all”, noted Judge O’Connell.

He suffers from memory loss, mood swings, exhaustion, and cannot work as a carpenter or laborer.

“My brain is not the same as before,” Mr Hashemi told the court.

Born in Afghanistan, Rezaie emigrated with his family to Australia in 2017. They have since lived in Dandenong, Hampton Park and Narre Warren South.

He had passed his VCE despite arriving with little English.

He recently started a paid job in a real estate, which helped considerably with his family’s mortgage. It was an achievement of which he was “justly proud”, Judge O’Connell said.

His genuine remorse, youth, and lack of mental illness, drug problems, or previous convictions were noted. His prospects for rehabilitation were “very good”.

Frequently, young offenders of good character were implicated in such offences, the judge said.

Rezaie faced deportation if imprisoned for 12 months or more.

He was jailed for six months, followed by a two-year community correction order.

He was banned from driving for two years.