Victims' families welcome death crash law review

FAMILIES of three girls killed by dangerous drivers have welcomed the government launching a major consultation into jail terms and criminal offences.

Wednesday, 14th September 2016, 6:00 am
Updated Tuesday, 4th October 2016, 1:51 pm
Rose Allsop, mother of Jasmine Allsop who died after being hit by a car driven by Sam Etherington, who had taken a cocktail of drugs

Campaigners and The News have been calling for tougher sentences for dangerous drivers who kill on the roads.

Now the Ministry of Justice has revealed its consultation on criminal offences and penalties for the crimes will start within three months. This could see an increase in sentences.

Both Jasmine Allsop, 14, and Olivia Lewry, 16, were killed by Sam Etherington as he sped at 65mph in 30mph limit Ann’s Hill Road, in Gosport.

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Jasmine’s mother Rose Allsop, 40, welcomed the move and has long said the nine-year term Etherington received was far from enough.

Speaking to The News yesterday, Rose said: ‘Knowing that he’s released next year, it just doesn’t seen two minutes he’s been in there.

‘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.’

Payton Sparks, 16, 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 sentenced to eight years in jail for the killing of Payton, known as Poppy, in May 2013.

Her mother Lisa Garner spoke to The News at the launch of our Get Tough on Danger Drivers campaign in March 2014.

Grieving Lisa, of Botley Drive, Havant, said: ‘I was too upset to take it further after the hearing but I’m much stronger now and I want to take this as far as possible.’

Gosport MP Caroline Dinenage has been supporting the families of the two girls in Gosport.

She said: ‘Having long campaigned for more robust punishments for dangerous drivers, I welcome the government’s announcement that it is launching a consultation on dangerous driving offences and penalties.

‘In Gosport we have seen the devastating effects that dangerous driving can have.

‘It is right that offenders receive an appropriate punishment and victims see proper justice.

Yesterday Justice minister Sam Gyimah said: ‘This government is determined to make sure sentencing fits the crime for those who kill or seriously injure on our roads.

‘We will launch a consultation on dangerous driving offences and penalties by the end of the year.

How judges sentence death by dangerous driving cases

DEATH by dangerous driving carries a maximum sentence of 14 years in prison.

Anyone who pleads guilty to the crime at the first opportunity gets a third off their sentence. A defendant who is found guilty at a trial is not entitled to this reduction.

Judges have to use the Sentencing Council guidelines, which indicate ranges of terms depending on the features in a case, including number of victims and if alcohol or drugs were involved. Barristers for the defence and prosecution are able to make submissions to the judge on the features of the case.

MPs debate major concern over sentencing powers

DISTRAUGHT families are left feeling like danger drivers ‘get off’ when they are sentenced, a justice minister said.

At a debate in Westminster Hall on dangerous driving yesterday, Sam Gyimah said there were ‘deep concerns’ over sentencing powers.

The justice minister said: ‘There can be nothing more tragic than the loss of a loved one, especially where that loss was avoidable.

‘As the prime minister made clear last week, there are deep concerns around the law on dangerous driving and the sentencing powers that are currently available to the courts.

‘For too long these concerns have not been acted upon.’

Claire Perry, the former transport minister, asked ministers to finish a review of sentencing guidelines so that legal ‘loopholes’ which enable prison sentences to be reduced can be closed and for the offering of automatic sentence reductions to motorists who plead guilty to a death by dangerous driving offence to come to an end.

She said: ‘We already have a suite of sentencing guidelines that claim to punish these deaths by dangerous driving. But in this case, how bad does a death have to be?’

Ms Perry also said while manslaughter charges can already be pursued, it is almost never done. Mr Gyimah said the consultation set to be launched would be done this year – much earlier than originally thought.