Qatari royal killed pedestrian with Rolls-Royce near Buckingham Palace but avoids jail

Hassan Nasser Al Thani was speeding when he collided with Charles Roberts, 66, in London

Hassan Nasser Al Thani, now aged 42, arrives at the Old Bailey in London after being charged with dangerous driving. Photo: PA
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A member of the Qatari ruling family who killed a pedestrian in London while speeding in his purple Rolls-Royce has avoided jail.

Hassan Nasser Al Thani, 42, was driving at more than 80 kilometres per hour when his car hit Charles Roberts, 66, on August 22, 2019.

Roberts died at the scene in Duke of Wellington Place, near Buckingham Palace.

On Tuesday, Al Thani, of Kensington, London, pleaded guilty to causing death by careless driving.

He had denied the charge at earlier hearings, in which he appeared by video link from Qatar.

Al Thani was sentenced to eight months in jail, suspended for two years.

Sentencing, Judge Richard Marks QC said Al Thani was driving near Hyde Park Corner, having been out to dinner with a friend.

Al Thani had stopped at a pedestrian crossing. As the traffic lights turned green, Al Thani set off, accelerating at a speed of up to 54 miles per hour (86kph) in a 30mph zone.

Roberts stepped into the road to cross, and Al Thani braked as he approached the victim, the court heard.

“I am entirely satisfied from the evidence that if you had been driving at or within the speed limit his death would have been avoided,” Judge Marks said.

“You were to tell the police – clearly incorrectly – that you had moved off slowly from the lights when suddenly, and without warning, someone ran out in front of your car. The evidence tells a very different story,” the judge said.

“Shortly prior to the impact, you were driving at a speed that was not far short of twice the legal limit and therein, in my judgment, lies the seriousness of this offence.”

Mr Al-Thani killed 66-year-old Charles Roberts while behind the wheel of a purple Rolls-Royce Wraith near Buckingham Palace in 2019. PA.

Al Thani saw Roberts “very late” and the only explanation was that he was “simply not paying attention”, the judge said.

The court heard that Al Thani was the registered owner of the purple Rolls-Royce Wraith, which had Qatari number plates. It has since been sold.

In the crash, the vehicle’s windscreen was smashed and a front headlight damaged.

Roberts was a recently retired railway signalling manager from Harpenden, Hertfordshire.

In a prepared statement given to police at the time, Al Thani expressed sadness at the death and offered his condolences to the victim’s family and friends.

A statement read on behalf of Roberts’ relatives outlined the devastation of his brother.

“It is a relief to him the driver responsible is to be held to account,” the family said.

Updated: October 20, 2021, 8:02 AM