Birmingham & Black Country

Zoe Shapiro death: Van driver jailed for killing student

Neel Balu Image copyright West Midlands Police
Image caption Neel Balu has been jailed for seven years

A van driver who killed a student as she crossed a pedestrian crossing has been jailed for seven years.

Zoe Shapiro, 17, was hit by Neel Balu in Walsall, West Midlands, as she was on her way to college.

Balu was speeding when he hit Ms Shapiro, a pupil at Q3 Academy in Great Barr, jurors were told.

The 43-year-old, of Spennells, Kidderminster, was convicted of causing death by dangerous driving at Birmingham Crown Court of Thursday.

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The court heard Balu had also gone through a red light before hitting Ms Shapiro on Birmingham Road, West Midlands Police said.

Image copyright West Midlands Police
Image caption Zoe Shapiro, 17, was killed when she was hit by a van being driven by Neel Balu

Police said in his defence, Balu claimed he was trying to wipe away ice from his window and had been dazzled by the sun which distracted him.

Following the sentencing Ms Shapiro's mother, Joanne Corbett, paid tribute to her "beautiful, kind and exceptional" daughter, who she described as her "best friend".

"She was, and always will be, my inspiration," she added.

Balu was also disqualified from driving for nine-and-a-half years.

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