Families suffer ‘life sentences’ as killer drivers flee justice

Flowers placed by mourners after the deaths of Jasmine Allsop and Olivia Lewry in Gosport in 2013
Flowers placed by mourners after the deaths of Jasmine Allsop and Olivia Lewry in Gosport in 2013
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DRIVERS who kill have been sentenced to an average of just four years in prison with dozens avoiding jail altogether, an investigation has revealed.

Not a single person has been handed the maximum 14-year sentence for causing death by dangerous driving since parliament lengthened the sentence from 10 years in 2004.

Andy Greest, pictured here on his wedding day aged 40, was killed in a car crash aged 55

Andy Greest, pictured here on his wedding day aged 40, was killed in a car crash aged 55

Figures show that between 2006 and 2015, 111 people convicted of causing death by dangerous driving walked free from court. Seventy-nine were given suspended sentences, with 14 given community service, 10 fined and two given a conditional discharge.

The average sentence given in that time to those who were jailed is four years and one month.

In Hampshire, 37 drivers were convicted of death by dangerous driving between 2005 and 2015, with four given suspended sentences. Fourteen were given between six months and four years. Nine were given four to five years and six were handed between five and 10.

Many other motorists who kill on the roads are prosecuted under the lesser charge of causing death by careless driving, as opposed to death by dangerous driving, which bereaved families view as an insult.

Today, together with sister papers, The News launches our joint campaign, Drive For Justice, to call for changes in the law to make sentencing fit the crime for those who kill or seriously injure people on our roads.

Around five people are killed on the roads each day. The vast majority of families feel they do not get justice.

The Drive For Justice campaign aims to give these families a voice and lobby government to re-work guidelines so judges can use the powers that exist as well as tackling loopholes and imposing tougher terms for the worst offenders.

Kayleigh Greest’s family was dealt a hammer blow when her father Andy, 55, from Gosport, was killed by a drink-driver, who admitted death by careless driving while over the limit.

‘His sentence is not going to change anything. He should’ve got longer,’ Kayleigh said after the court case.

Now she faces the horror of knowing Anderson is soon set to be released from jail, having served half his sentence. He is due to come out on December 16.

‘He’s taken away the main person from us in our lives,’ she said when backing a campaign against danger drivers.

‘We’re never going to get him back. I know the driver didn’t go out with a knife and murder him, I understand that.’

Tragedy has hit other families across the area, including the relatives of Jasmine Allsop, 14, and Olivia Lewry, 16, who were killed by Samuel Etherington, in a crash.

Etherington was jailed for nine years for the 2013 crash after he drove at 65mph in Ann’s Hill Road, Gosport, before hitting the pair in the road.

Backing the call for tougher sentences Gosport MP Caroline Dinenage said: ‘I am pleased to see the Drive for Justice Campaign.

‘In Gosport we have bitter experience of young people tragically killed as a result of dangerous driving, and the life sentences of this for their families who do not feel they have received justice.

‘I have long called for more robust maximum penalties for offenders. I am pleased that progress is being made, however we need to keep fighting for proper justice for victims.’

The Ministry of Justice has vowed to launch a consultation on both sentencing guidelines and penalties for danger driving before the end of the year.

OUR AIM

Drive For Justice is seeking to give families affected by the anguish of road deaths as a result of reckless and criminal driving a voice to bring about change and better justice.

Sign the petition online to back the campaign.

Our campaign aims to:

n Call on the government to rework sentencing guidelines and give judges specialist training so they can use the full powers that are available to them when deciding sentences for offenders

n To have tougher sentences for the worst offenders

n Have all culpable deaths treated as manslaughter

n See more driving bans and longer driving bans handed out to those who kill or seriously injure on the roads or risk injury and death

n Close the loopholes that exist such as with hit and runs where failure to stop carries a maximum of six months in prison while drink-driving penalties are tougher meaning those who have been drink-driving can get a lesser sentence if they flee the scene

n Look at the charges of dangerous driving and careless driving. Bereaved families feel ‘careless’ undermines the severity of the offence when someone is killed or seriously injured by illegal and risky behaviour.