Bereaved Portsmouth mum welcomes news that new danger-driver law with life imprisonment will take effect this week - and demands full sentences should be served
A BEREAVED Portsmouth mum has welcomed news that killer drivers will face up to life in prison under new sentencing rules that come into force this week.
The law was changed in 2017 to increase the potential sentence for dangerous drivers who kill and careless drivers who kill while under the influence of drink or drugs.
But only now will the change come into effect, on Tuesday, as a result of the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act.
The previous maximum penalty for those crimes was 14 years – but this term was hardly ever imposed. The reforms will also create an offence of causing serious injury by careless driving, meaning those who inflict long-term or permanent injuries also face tougher sentences.
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Driver Zax Ross-Harris and passenger Danny Ross-Barringer were jailed for six and eight years for driving up to 100mph.
Sarah, of Paulsgrove, says she welcomes the penalties being stiffened – but wants those convicted to serve the full sentence without getting time off for an early plea, or being let out on licence.
‘I agree with the life sentences being introduced,’ she said. ‘I welcome the recognition that it’s such a serious crime.
‘But I would change it so that if someone gets a certain number of years, they should do that number of years. It’s not necessarily stronger sentences we need, it’s sentences that are carried out. The people who killed my son get to spend Christmas with their parents. My family and I will never get that again.’
Sarah added: ‘Luke is never out of my thoughts. We go to the crash site regularly.’
The News launched the Get Tough on Danger Drivers campaign in 2014 to lobby to see the law changed, sparked in part by the deaths of Olivia Lewry and Jasmine Allsop in Gosport in 2013, who were killed by Samuel Etherington. He was sentenced to nine years but would serve only half of that.
Two years later The News joined its sister titles in a national Drive for Justice campaign with a similar target, which kept the pressure on to increase the tariffs that could be given to drivers who kill. This campaign revealed that no defendant in the country had been given the maximum 14-year sentence for death by dangerous driving in the 10 years up to 2014 after the law had been last changed.
Deputy Prime Minister, Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice Dominic Raab said: ‘Too many lives have been lost to reckless behaviour behind the wheel, devastating families.
‘We have changed the law so that those responsible will now face the possibility of life behind bars.’
At the same time, the government is changing the rules to allow judges to grant people with hearing loss the additional support of sign language interpreters during jury deliberations.
Previously, only the 12 sworn jurors were permitted to enter deliberation rooms meaning those who have hearing loss were unable to participate.