Domestic abuse campaigner who ran over four-year-old boy on pedestrian crossing is spared jail after she blamed ‘mental health difficulties’ for jumping a red light

  • Sanya Nadeem, 24, hit Elliott Bramhall, 4, with her BMW in Bolton last November
  • Boy spent four days in hospital with fractured pelvis and cuts to head and ears 
  • Ms Nadeem’s lawyer cited how her mental health difficulties had been triggered 
  • She was handed 16 months jail suspended for two years and was ordered to complete a 12-month mental health programme

Sanya Nadeem (pictured), 24, was given 16 months jail suspended for two years after admitting causing serious injury by dangerous driving at Bolton Crown Court

A domestic abuse campaigner who mowed down a four-year-old boy after running a red light has been spared jail after citing ‘mental health difficulties’. 

Sanya Nadeem, 24, sent little Elliott Bramhall flying ‘quite some distance’ when she struck him with her BMW on a pedestrian crossing on Moss Bank Way, Bolton on November 9 last year.  

The boy, who was walking home from a shopping trip with his older sister Danielle, spent four days at Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital after fracturing his pelvis and suffering cuts to his ears and head.

Ms Nadeem’s defence counsel told Bolton Crown Court that she had received a phone call from an abusive ex-boyfriend just before setting off, which ‘triggered’ her mental health difficulties, adding that that was the ‘only reason she can point to’ as to why she thought the light was green.   

As Elliot’s older sister rushed to his aid, Ms Nadeem was heard saying on her mobile phone: ‘I was doing 30 mph and hit a little boy.’  

In a subsequent confrontation she wrongly insisted the pedestrian crossing light had been green when she drove across it and suggested Elliott was to blame.

The young boy, from Bolton, was seen to have blood pouring from his head as he called for his mother. The injury was later declared non-life threatening and he has since made a full recovery.   

Ms Nadeem faced up to five years jail after she admitted causing serious injury by dangerous driving but was given 16 months jail suspended for two years and was ordered to complete a 12-month mental health programme.   

The Criminology student at Leeds Beckett University, who regularly posts on social media about her ‘Seek Me’ campaign against domestic violence, has only recently come off suicide watch following the incident, the court heard. 

Bob Sastry, prosecuting, said: ‘They [Elliot and Danielle] proceeded to a pedestrian crossing where they waited for the lights to change to red and for the green man to appear.

‘Dannielle said Elliott had been told to wait for the green man and the beeping to cross the road. The beeping started and Danielle noticed a car had become stationary to her right-hand side.

‘They and a friend started to cross the road and Elliott started to run ahead in order to get to the other side. 

‘But as Danielle reached the halfway point across the road, she noticed a car appear from the left-hand side, driving through the red light. At that point, she screamed “Elliott!”, and unfortunately saw the car strike Elliott.

‘He was thrown some distance and hit the car hard. She thought he was probably dead and she picked him off the floor. 

‘It was a very difficult period of time when she didn’t know what to do. Danielle then saw the BMW driver had got out of the vehicle, now on the phone, and said, “I was doing 30 mph and hit a little boy.”

‘There was a confrontation between Danielle and the driver of the car. The defendant didn’t accept that it was a red light although it was clear that it was. At that point, blood was seen coming from Elliott’s head. He began to speak and called for his mother.

Ms Nadeem’s defence counsel told Bolton Crown Court that she had received a phone call from an abusive ex-boyfriend just before setting off, which ‘triggered’ her mental health difficulties, adding that that was the ‘only reason she can point to’ as to why she thought the light was green

‘Elliott was taken to the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital where he was found to have a pelvis fracture. The examining doctor stated once Elliott’s fracture healed, he would be able to return to normal activity. 

‘He spent four days in hospital. There were lacerations to his left ear and the parietal area of the skull.

‘The defendant spoke to the police at the scene. She was assessed in relation to intoxicants and drugs but all those were negative. 

‘The officer wrote that Miss Nadeem did maintain the lights were green. He described her as extremely upset, asking how Elliott was on more than one occasion.

‘In a prepared statement, she maintained the lights were green at the time of the collision. Witnesses confirmed that they were definitely red.’

In a statement Elliot’s mother Nicola said: ‘It had been his first day back at school, having been off for three weeks due to Covid isolation. He’d gone to school, and thereafter, some arrangement had been made for him to have dinner. 

‘That night I went to the hospital to be met by 20 medical staff. I was in such a state I couldn’t cry because I didn’t know what was going on.

‘I can only praise the treatment Elliott received at the time and he has made an incredible recovery.’

In mitigation for Ms Nadeem defence counsel Helena Williams said her client had been suffering ‘mental health difficulties’ in the run up to the crash.

Miss Williams added: ‘The trigger for some of these difficulties are from her family and sexual abuse. 

‘On the day of the incident, she was at a friend’s house, and shortly before leaving received a phone call from an ex-partner, for whom there have been allegations of this type of abuse.

‘The defendant looking back accepts that this phone call had an impact on her mindset that day. It caused her to have suicidal thoughts. It’s something she has suffered with on and off with.

The Criminology student at Leeds Beckett University, who regularly posts on social media about her ‘Seek Me’ campaign against domestic violence, has only recently come off suicide watch following the incident, the court heard

‘She still doesn’t know why she didn’t stop. She believed that the light was green. Up until she was shown the CCTV footage of the collision, she believed that was the case. She finally accepted that wasn’t the case.

‘But due to the mindset she was in on the day, the triggering of her mental health difficulties, that’s the only reason she can point to as to why she thought the light was green when it was red.’

Miss Williams added: ‘Miss Nadeem remained at the scene after the incident had occurred. She was clearly extremely upset at what happened. 

‘She is currently studying for a master’s degree in criminology and is on track to receive first-class honours. She has been granted an extension to complete her assessments. The university is aware of the court proceedings.

‘Since this offending, she went through an increasingly low period as a result of what she had done and the injuries she had caused Elliott to suffer, but she has put in place steps to help herself and get the help she needs. 

‘She has seen her GP and seen a counsellor. In March this year, she set up a charity called ‘Seek Me’. This has helped her mental health to improve. This allowed her to come off suicide watch.

‘The mission of the charity is to help those who are survivors of domestic abuse and provides practical and emotional support to those who use the charity. I have seen a number of messages from people thanking her for the work she has done.’

Ms Nadeem (pictured), of Bolton, was banned from driving for two years. After the case she said: ‘Don’t think that I was let off easy, I had to completely open up about everything in my life just to prove how my mental health affected me.’

Sentencing Ms Nadeem Judge Graeme Smith told her: ‘What happened could be described as every parent’s worst nightmare, or in this case, every big sister’s worst nightmare. They crossed the road perfectly properly at a designated crossing point, having waited for the lights to change.

‘Then Danielle had to see her little brother be hit and thrown through the air by a car, which hadn’t stopped or slowed down at all. 

‘As nothing like that has never happened to me, I can only imagine how utterly terrifying it would have been for Danielle and others.

‘Fortunately, as you have heard, Elliott has made nearly a complete recovery. But certainly, in the hours and days after, there was an obvious fear for the possible long-term effect on his life. 

‘There was no clear explanation for your driving that day. You didn’t take alcohol or drugs, and you were not on your phone. You simply appeared not to have noticed whether the lights had turned red.

‘It simply seems we will never know why this happened. Eliot suffered a fractured pelvis, lacerations to his ear and skull. He has some ongoing problems with soreness to his ears, but thankfully no long-term consequences.

‘I have read the pre-sentence report. It makes it clear that you have suffered over a long period of time significant abuse at the hands of your family and parents, and that has led to you suffering significant issues with your mental health.

‘Notwithstanding all that, you have been able to set up a charity to assist other survivors of domestic abuse. I have read the references, and all of them speak of your good nature.’

As Elliot’s older sister rushed to his aid, Ms Nadeem (pictured) was heard saying on her mobile phone: ‘I was doing 30 mph and hit a little boy’ 

Ms Nadeem, of Bolton, was banned from driving for two years. After the case she said: ‘Don’t think that I was let off easy, I had to completely open up about everything in my life just to prove how my mental health affected me. 

‘It’s easy for others to pass judgement, if you lived through it and then started doing what I do, I’m sure you would also be given a second chance at life.

‘I am glad that the young boy is okay and doing better, and I am happy to work alongside probation to get my mental health at a better stage. 

‘For anyone who is questioning it, please refer to my IGTV and YouTube videos to learn more about what I do now to help others along with helping myself.

‘I have never once lied or tried to hide anything from others so I will be honest, this accident destroyed me last year and it lead to me creating this company and project. 

‘So regardless of how bad it was, my own mistake and misjudgement during a bad period of my mental health is very much the thing that made me find the courage to get the right help and to now help others do the same.

‘I hope this isn’t held against me, but bad things happen, an accident is an accident and I would much rather face it early on instead of letting people just assume the worst about me.’

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