Charity’s survey shows demand for longer prison time

Flowers and written tributesat the spot where Payton 'Poppy' Sparks lost her life
Flowers and written tributesat the spot where Payton 'Poppy' Sparks lost her life

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FOUR out of five people want killer drivers to be given longer prison terms, according to a driver safety charity.

Brake’s survey comes as the charity is calling for tougher sentences and penalties to get justice for families left behind.

Its survey revealed four out of five people said killer drivers who take illegal risks should be considered dangerous, not careless.

It comes as government figures show only six in ten people are jailed after being convicted of killing a person through risky driving.

And only nine per cent are given five years or more, according to the latest government numbers.

It comes as The News launched a campaign on Monday to increase the 14-year maximum sentence for death by dangerous driving.

Dave Nichols, spokesman for Brake, the road safety charity said: ‘The News’ campaign is helping raise awareness of the injustice felt by many bereaved victim’s families left to deal with the appalling tragedy of a sudden death on our roads.

‘Overly lenient penalties are an insult to these families.

‘Through our support services, we often hear that families feel grossly let down by our justice system.

‘That’s why we’re calling for a review of charges and penalties for drivers who kill and seriously injure, and for judges to use the full range of their powers, to ensure the punishment reflects the devastation caused.’

The charity wants judges to make full use of the current maximum sentences, not for government to change the law.

Parents in the area have backed the News campaign after losing their teenage daughters in crashes.

Payton Sparks, 16, known as Poppy, was killed when Lewis Young, 19, lost control and hit a telegraph pole, tree, and building after taking a cocktail of mephedrone and ketamine.

He was convicted of death by dangerous driving and sentenced to eight years in jail after the crash on Petersfield Road, in Havant, on May 25 last year.

Poppy’s mum Lisa Garner, 35, of Botley Drive, Havant, said people who did not agree killers should have longer sentences do not know the pain she has gone through.

She told The News: ‘They don’t even understand what it’s like.

‘They wouldn’t even have the ability to imagine what our lives are like.’

Lisa added she has joined Brake and has ordered a plaque from the charity, warning motorists to drive slowly. She plans to put it where Poppy died.

THE research by Brake shows a huge public backlash against drivers who kill on the road.

It found 80 per cent of people want longer jail time for drivers who kill.

And 77 per cent of people think drivers who kill or seriously injure while speeding should be charged with death by dangerous driving – 23 per cent said it should be careless.

Almost three-quarters of drivers polled said people who kill or severely injure while using a mobile phone should be charged with death by dangerous driving.

The remainder said the charge should be death by careless driving.

As launched on Monday, The News is campaigning for an increase in the 14-year maximum sentence for death by dangerous driving.

In Brake’s poll, 27 per cent of people said the jail term for killer drivers should be between 10 and 15 years, while 16 per cent said it should be more than 15 years.

It increased to 35 per cent asking for a jail term of more than 15 years if the driver was on drugs and drink.

Drivers who kill

*Drivers who kill are charged with either causing death by dangerous driving or careless driving depending on the driving having fallen ‘far below’ or ‘below’ the standard expected of a ‘careful and competent driver’.

*A report by the Inspectorate for the Crown Prosecution Service found many drivers were charged with death by careless driving because it is easier to secure a conviction as opposed to death by dangerous driving.

*In 2011, 62 per cent of drivers convicted of causing death were handed immediate prison sentences.

Nine per cent of those were sentenced to five years or more behind bars.

*The average sentence for death by dangerous driving is four years and 1.3 years for death by careless driving.

Drink, drug and hit and run drivers:

*Hit-and-run drivers who flee a fatal cash can be charged with failing to stop or report an accident – with a maximum sentence of six months.

*The charity says this means there is an incentive for drink and drug drivers to leave the scene as if they stay they could be charged with death by dangerous driving.

Driving disqualified, unlicensed and uninsured:

*Drivers who kill while disqualified or uninsured cane be charged with causing death by dangerous driving while unlicensed, disqualified or uninsured. The maximum sentence is two years and an unlimited fine.

*The penalty for disqualified drivers caught driving takes no account of whether they have been caught driving while disqualified before. The maximum sentence is six months.