Killed teenager's mother: tough new danger driving laws are too late for Luke

THE FAMILY of a teenager killed by a '˜coward' showing off at 100mph has welcomed an announcement that lethal drivers will now face life in jail.

Monday, 16th October 2017, 7:00 am
Updated Tuesday, 12th December 2017, 12:21 pm
Sarah Hiscutt from Paulsgrove on the B2177 near Southwick where she has made a memorial to her son Luke who died in a car crash two years ago Picture Ian Hargreaves (170056-1)

The Drive For Justice campaign launched by The News, found no-one had been handed the maximum 14-year term for death by dangerous driving since it was brought in.

But now in a major victory for bereaved families the government has announced a raft of changes, including upping the maximum to life and bringing in new criminal offences.

Johnston Press Investigations and The News’ campaign submitted victim’s families’ testimony to the Ministry of Justice’s consultation on sentencing powers.

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Luke Fletcher

Sarah Hiscutt, 45, has welcomed the move after her son Luke Fletcher was killed in a horror crash, aged 19.

The Paulsgrove cousins responsible – driver Zax Ross-Harris and passenger Danny Ross-Barringer – were jailed for six and eight years for driving up to 100mph while showing off in a Nissan Almera – crashing it on the B2177 at Pitymoor Lane last January.

Speaking to The News, Sarah said: ‘It should have come in last year – I agree with it. If they kill someone they should be in prison for life.

‘Unfortunately it wasn’t in time for Luke’s trial, I’m disappointed with that but I’m glad they have made it a life sentence.

Luke Fletcher

‘I’m looking at them getting out in three or three-and-a-half years’ time and I’m not looking forward to it.

‘We have good days and bad days. He’s missed so much it’s unbelievable.

‘We’re just dealing with it day to day still.

‘His sister Robyn still won’t even talk about him or mention his name. She’s been through counselling.

‘It’s so hard for everyone — even more so for Robyn.

‘Luke would’ve been 21 on Friday, we’re having a party to celebrate his birthday. Really, he should’ve been there with us.’

The car had spun out of control while Ross-Harris showed off before going backwards off the carriageway crashing into trees with the car ending on its side off the road.

Luke died minutes into the next day, while his fellow passenger Sonny Wedge suffered brain trauma and broke seven ribs, Portsmouth Crown Court heard in April.

Ross-Harris, 22, admitted death by dangerous driving and was jailed for eight years while Ross-Barringer, 25, was jailed for six years for aiding and abetting death by dangerous driving.

The News launched a previous separate campaign for tough sentences in the wake of the deaths of friends Olivia Lewry, 16, and Jasmine Allsop, 14.

The pair were killed by Samuel Etherington as he sped at 65mph in his green Honda Civic in Ann’s Hill Road, Gosport, after taking mephedrone and ketamine.

Etherington, of Stoners Close, Gosport, admitted death by dangerous driving after denying manslaughter charges over the killings at 4.15am on November 3 in 2013.

MP Caroline Dinenage, who called for the sentence to be increased, said: ‘I warmly welcome this news.

‘In Gosport we well remember the deaths of two young women, mown down by a driver on a cocktail of drink and drugs.

‘The only life sentence was for the families and friends who have to carry the weight of this tragedy.’

Proposals outlined after 9,000 responses were made to the consultation include:

n Increasing the maximum penalty for causing death by dangerous driving from 14 years to life.

n Increasing the maximum penalty for causing death by careless driving while under the influence of drink or drugs from 14 years to life.

n Creating a new offence of causing serious injury by careless driving.

Drivers who cause death by speeding, racing, or using a mobile phone could face sentences equivalent to manslaughter with maximum penalties raised from 14 years to life.