Man who killed Crawley footballer in Brighton horror crash is found guilty of murder
A driver who ran over a Crawley man out celebrating a birthday has been found guilty of his murder.
Iftekhar Khondaker, 34, was behind the wheel of a BMW which hit and killed Suel Delgado, 20, in December 2019, said police.
Two of Suel’s friends also sustained life changing injuries in the horror crash.
After more than 16 hours of deliberating, the jury found Iftekhar Khondaker guilty of murder and two counts of attempted murder, a police spokesman confirmed. His brother Irfan Khondaker, 27, was found guilty of assisting an offender by helping his brother escape the scene of the crime.
The spokesman added: “The court heard that Suel, 20, from Crawley and a group of his friends were out celebrating a birthday in Brighton when they became involved in an argument with brothers Iftekhar and Irfan Khondaker.
“As they walked along the seafront road towards the Pier in the early hours of Sunday December 1, the group were captured on CCTV involved in a minor scuffle.
“This continued as they walked along Marine Parade by the Sea Life centre, before concluding and both groups parting company.”
The Khondaker brothers, of Caithness Road, Mitcham, then went to their large BMW X6 SUV which was parked nearby, and wanting to prove they had won the fight, Iftekhar deliberately drove the vehicle at speed into the group as they crossed the road, injuring the three friends, police said. Suel was fatally injured and later died in hospital.
Suel played for Loxwood, Broadbridge Heath FC and Alfold. He also played for Three Bridges.
His two friends, Zakir, 19, and Azaan Khan, 23, who are cousins, also received life threatening injuries, but thanks to the skills and medical expertise of doctors, they both survived. Both however, have been left with life changing injuries from the attack.
The police spokesman said: “The Khondaker brothers made no attempt to stop or help his victims as they lay in the street, whilst stunned witnesses to the attack watched in horror.
“They drove to Middle Street in the town centre, where they dumped their badly damaged vehicle before calling a taxi and returning to their home.”
A murder investigation was launched by the Surrey and Sussex Major Crime Team, and officers quickly identified the people in the car, police said. Iftekhar was arrested later that day, whilst his brother handed himself into police a few days later.
The spokesman added: “A thorough search of the extensive crime scene was carried out, resulting in hours of CCTV being reviewed as well as hundreds of forensics exhibits being produced.
“Police were able to link both brothers to the vehicle at the time of the collision, placing Iftekhar in the driver’s seat.”
During their trial, both brothers, of Caithness Road, Mitcham, admitted to being in the car at the time, claiming they were scared following the earlier fight and didn’t see the group as they were crossing the road.
Iftekhar denied murder, but admitted causing death by dangerous driving, police said. But after hearing all the evidence, a jury believed Iftekhar intended to cause the friends serious injury by deliberately driving into them, and knowing that was the case, his brother had knowingly helped him to flee the area.
Detective Chief Inspector Chris Friday of the Surrey and Sussex Major Crime Team, said: “Our thoughts at this time are with the family and friends of all those affected by this.
“Although Suel paid the ultimate price, this terrible act will have a lasting effect on his friends and their families who survived or witnessed this attack.
“I hope that we have provided some answers as to how Suel met his death, and crucially who was responsible.
“Ultimately, we sought to identify who committed what is the most serious crime of all. I would like to thank the jury for their time, commitment and due diligence in bringing about this verdict.”
DCI Friday praised his team for working tirelessly on a ‘fast moving and dynamic investigation’.
He added: “[My team were] collating all evidence from the scene and securing evidence to charge them both. This took many days, during which I am aware Marine Parade was closed to traffic.
“I realise this was inconvenient for many, and I am grateful to the public in their understanding and cooperation.
“I would like to recognise the courage of the witnesses who came forward to support us in achieving this result and to also thank the jury for their time, commitment and due diligence in bringing about this verdict.”
Alice Trodden senior crown prosecutor with CPS South East said: “Despite the defendant’s claims that the crash was an accident and it was just coincidence that he hit some of the people he had been fighting with moments earlier, the evidence clearly showed this to be a lie.
“Khondaker had every intention of killing his victims and deliberately drove at the group. This was shown by the fact that he was still accelerating along the wrong side of the road when the car hit the three men and that he made no attempt whatsoever to avoid the collision.
“In the space of just a few seconds, he killed one man and forever changed the lives of his two other victims, leaving them with injuries that are still impacting on them today.”