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Driver in fatal accident gets up to 25 years in prison

Bilal Hassan, after being arraigned on Thursday, March

Bilal Hassan, after being arraigned on Thursday, March 12, 2015 in Mineola, was sentenced Thursday, Aug. 25, 2016, to up to 25 years in prison after his conviction for a high-speed, drunken-driving crash on Thanksgiving in 2014 that killed his car passenger. Credit: Howard Schnapp

Saying he showed “complete disregard for human life,” a Nassau judge Thursday sentenced a Brooklyn man to up to 25 years in prison after his conviction for a high speed, drunken-driving crash on Thanksgiving in 2014 that killed his passenger.

Judge Philip Grella meted out a maximum prison term of 8 1⁄3 to 25 years to Bilal Hassan, 25, saying the man refused to take responsibility for his crimes “even up to this very minute.”

A Mineola jury in June found Hassan guilty of charges including aggravated vehicular homicide and manslaughter. Hassan had refused to attend his trial or recognize the court’s authority.

“I was brought here by force,” the orange-clad jail inmate told the judge Thursday after court officers rolled him into the hearing in a wheelchair.

The Nov. 27, 2014, crash ended the life of Malih Takkouche, 24, of Brooklyn, as he and Hassan headed home from a night out at an East Meadow nightclub.

Police found Hassan’s crushed Infiniti Q50 burning in a ravine by ramps for the Meadowbrook State and Southern State parkways, with both men trapped inside the car.

Takkouche was an honor-roll student who was studying nursing at Kingsborough Community College and also worked in his father’s automotive industry business, according to prosecutors and his family’s lawyer.

Prosecutors said Hassan’s blood-alcohol content had been 0.16 percent — double the legal threshold for intoxication — and he’d been driving without an ignition interlock device or a valid driver’s license after a previous drunken-driving conviction.

Authorities said the early-morning crash happened when Hassan lost control of the Infiniti after roaring past a state trooper on the Meadowbrook State Parkway at more than 80 mph, veering toward a parkway median, and crashing by an exit ramp.

Prosecutors said Hassan drove as fast as 133 mph, turning his car “into a lethal weapon.”

Assistant District Attorney Michael Bushwack appealed Thursday for the top sentence, telling the judge it was what the victim’s family was seeking, although they were too emotional to speak in court.

“The pain is too great for words,” Bushwack said Takkouche’s father told him.

Defense attorney Christopher Devane extended condolences to the victim’s family. The Mineola attorney also told the judge he would file an appeal on behalf of Hassan, even as Hassan insisted in court that Devane — who was appointed to represent him — was “not my attorney.”

Takkouche’s family declined to comment after court. But their attorney, Gregory Grizopoulos of Westbury, said the sentence had held Hassan accountable and his clients would file a lawsuit now that the criminal trial was over.

“He deserved the maximum,” Bushwack said after speaking to the victim’s relatives. “This family is still absolutely distraught over the loss of their son, their brother, their nephew, their best friend. . . . He had a very, very bright future.”

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