An important breakthrough in the fight for justice

One of the basic tenets of the justice system should be that the punishment fits the crime.

By The Newsroom
Wednesday, 14th September 2016, 6:01 am
Updated Tuesday, 4th October 2016, 1:56 pm

But, in the case of death caused by dangerous driving, that is all too often not the case.

Imagine the pain of losing a loved one in such awful circumstances. Then think how much that pain is compounded when the person responsible receives what the grieving family regard as a lenient sentence.

We’ve been calling for tougher penalties for those who kill on the roads ever since we launched our Get Tough On Danger Drivers campaign in 2014.

So we’re pleased that the government has finally announced it is to launch a major consultation into dangerous driving offences.

Justice minister Sam Gyimah has accepted there are ‘deep concerns’ over the sentencing powers available to the courts.

Acceptance in the corridors of power that change is needed is an important breakthrough for people such as Rose Allsop, whose 14-year-old daughter Jasmine was killed in 2013 along with Olivia Lewry, 16, as dangerous driver Sam Etherington reached 65mph in a 30mph limit in Gosport.

Etherington got a nine-year jail sentence, but could be released next year. As Mrs Allsop says: ‘It just doesn’t seem two minutes he’s been in there. I don’t understand the criminal justice system.’

It’s easy to blame the courts for not being hard enough, but judges hearing dangerous driving cases are bound by sentencing guidelines.

So we trust the consultation will look at these guidelines and how they influence jail terms, plus how guilty pleas mean automatic sentence reductions.

This is an opportunity for the government to right some legal wrongs. We will be watching to make sure that happens.