Campaign for tough sentences as two killer drivers set to be released from prison

Devastated families are calling for tougher sentences for killer drivers '“ while recognising that no length of prison time would replace loved ones.

Tuesday, 22nd November 2016, 12:37 pm
Jasmine Allsop, left, and Olivia Lewry who died in 2013
Jasmine Allsop, left, and Olivia Lewry who died in 2013

Two families in Gosport are facing knowing that the person responsible for the deaths of their relatives is due to be released.

Jasmine Allsop, 14, and Olivia Lewry, 16, were killed in November 2013 by a driver speeding at up to 65mph in Ann’s Hill Road, Gosport.

Samuel Etherington was initially charged with manslaughter but admitted two counts of death by dangerous driving at Winchester Crown Court. He was jailed for nine years.

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But Jasmine’s mother Rose Allsop, of Gosport, is now facing the difficulty of knowing he will be released next year.

‘Knowing that he’s released next year, it just doesn’t seen two minutes he’s been in there,’ she said earlier this year when the Ministry of Justice confirmed it would review penalties before 2017.

‘They should increase it in future, they should make longer sentences.

‘Some drug dealers get a longer sentence – I don’t understand the criminal justice system. It’s disgusting really.’

Kayleigh Greest, also of Gosport, knows that her father’s killer will be out of prison by December 16.

Her dad, Andy, 55, was killed on the M3 by driver Steven Anderson, of Poole, who fell asleep at the wheel.

Anderson had been driving a Vauxhall Insignia after drinking while waiting for a delayed flight to London, having finished work as a diver at an oil rig in the North Sea.

Despite feeling tired he picked up his hire car at Heathrow Airport and set off for his home in Dorset.

When the motorway narrowed to two lanes from three, he fell asleep.

Just as he woke up Mr Greest’s car was so close to his own that he had almost no time to brake.

The crash pushed Mr Greest’s Vauxhall Vectra off the road and down the embankment, where it overturned.

Tragically Mr Greest suffered fatal injuries – Anderson escaped unhurt and even hid after making his way across the carriageway.

He was only found two hours later by a police dog and handler after he was spotted by an infrared camera-equipped helicopter.

Anderson admitted causing death by careless driving while over the prescribed limit and was jailed for seven years.

Using back calculations, roads policing officers found he would have been 219mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood at the time of the crash, and 233mg when he collected the car. The legal limit is 80mg.

Kayleigh, one of lorry driver Mr Greest’s four children, said she lost her ‘best friend’ who worked tirelessly for her family.

After the crash she not only lost her father and best friend but also her home.

The News has been running a campaign calling for tougher prison sentences for death by dangerous driving – which was supported by then-justice secretary Chris Grayling.

A new investigation, launched with The News’ sister papers, has found:

n Of the 738 people convicted between 2010 and 2015 of the offence, the most serious driving crime on the statute book, just seven – or 0.9 per cent of the total – were jailed for more than 10 years.

n The average jail sentence for causing death by dangerous driving is four years and one month, with 46 per cent of all those sentenced to less than four years in prison.

n A total of 111 people convicted of dangerous driving between 2006 and 2015 have walked free from court.

n Of the 111, 93 received suspended or community terms. In 10 cases, the offender was fined.

Labour MP Ben Bradshaw has accused the government of not acting on its promise to review sentencing.

‘The government has consistently dragged its feet on addressing this – we have had warm words from a series of ministers but no action,’ he said.

A former barrister has also warned against developing a revenge culture. He said: ‘We seem to have become more American in our thirst for revenge and longing to sue for the slightest excuse.’

He added: ‘To my mind the maximum is quite high enough.’

A Ministry of Justice spokesman said: ‘Driving offences can have devastating and heart-breaking consequences for victims and their families. This government is determined to make sure sentencing fits the crime for those who kill or seriously injure on our roads.

‘That is why we will launch a consultation on dangerous driving offences and penalties by the end of the year.’