A drunk driver who sped through central Auckland and ran red lights has been jailed after he slammed into a taxi, killing the young father inside.
Farshad Bahadori Esfehani appeared in the High Court at Auckland today to be sentenced over the December 2017 crash.
Justice Mark Woolford jailed Esfehani for three years and eight months, disqualified from driving for four years and ordered to pay $12,000 to his victim's family for damage to the car.
Esfehani had earlier pleaded guilty to driving with excess breath alcohol causing death, dangerous driving causing death, and failure to stop and ascertain injury.
The 22-year-old was due to stand trial last month before changing his pleas just a few days prior.
He was supported in court today by several friends and family.
Abdul Raheem Fahad Syed, 29, a Discount Taxis driver and new father, was killed in the early morning crash on Symonds St in central Auckland when Esfehani's black Mercedes-Benz slammed into his Toyota Prius.
Syed's family was also in court today, including his widow Nishat Abedi and young son Syed Abdul Raheem.
A statement from his father was read to the court.
"It is very painful for me and my family, it's a sad demise of our loved son ... a loving husband and caring father of a 5-month-old at the time of the accident," it read.
"I go to my son's grave every single day ... I ask Allah to give my son back if possible."
Syed's father said he could not find the words to describe "how painful it is for a father to bury his own son".
"My innocent son lost his life."
Further hurt for Syed's family, his father said, was inflicted when Esfehani fled the crash scene "without bothering to take him to a nearby hospital".
"It was his duty to stay by my son," Syed's father said.
He would not forgive the drunk driver for his grave mistake, the statement read.
The court heard Esfehani was driving erratically and went through three red lights after fleeing police from a car park building.
He was speeding at an average of 87km/h and at the time of impact was driving at 61-74km/h, the court heard.
Esfehani's lawyer Mark Ryan, however, said there were some discrepancies with the Crown's assessment of his client's speed and said it was significantly lower prior to the crash.
The force of the impact from the crash shunted Syed's car 10m sideways.
But before fleeing, Esfehani told members of the public not to call the police and made a comment about insurance, the court heard.
"Don't call the cops, call me a taxi … I hope that guy has insurance," he said.
Esfehani and his passenger were only found with the help of members of the public, police and the Eagle helicopter. Police dog units were also called to the scene.
Court documents, viewed by the Herald, show Esfehani blew more than three times over the legal limit.
He had a breath alcohol reading of 908mcg of alcohol per litre of breath.
The limit for drivers aged 20 years and over is 250mcg, and those who blow over 400mcg will face a criminal charge.
Syed, who was believed to be on his way to pick up passengers, died just after 4.45am on December 23, 2017.
Ryan said while his client was responsible for the crash, it was a tragic accident for which Esfehani is genuinely remorseful.
"This young man made a mistake - he's going to carry that mistake like a millstone around his neck for the rest of his life," Ryan said.
Justice Woolford accepted that Esfehani's remorse was genuine.
Syed's wife Abedi, later told the Herald her life was shattered when she learned of her husband's death.
"For me, everything is numb," she said.
"I was completely, completely numb. I was in shock."
She recalled Syed leaving their home about midnight for what would be the last time.
He placed his hand on their sleeping son's head because he feared the youngster might be getting sick and told his wife, "just take care of him", she said.
At about 7.30am she received the dreaded phone call.
After the crash, an outpouring of support from the New Zealand public followed, which included Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.
"I was surrounded by my own family when I read the news of this devastating accident," Ardern told the Herald at the time.
"I cannot comprehend the kind of loss Nishat Abedi is feeling."
The Hyderabadi community, which Syed and his family were part of, in New Zealand also rallied to support Abedi and her son after Syed's death.
Syed and Abedi moved to New Zealand in 2015, with Abedi, who had a Bachelor of Commerce, wanting to continue her studies.
Syed, who was described as a hard worker and keen cricketer, also loved his new home and the Kiwi people.
"I know his soul is in peace … he was a gentle [man]," Abedi said of her husband.
"For me, he was an angel."
Abedi and her young boy returned to India shortly after the crash to bury Syed in Hyderabad, the city where the couple grew up.