UK & World News

  • 21 March 2014, 9:39

Road-Death Sentences 'Are Not Tough Enough'

Some 82% of motorists think sentences should be higher for drivers who kill people on the roads, according to a survey by road safety charity Brake.

Latest government figures show only 62% of those convicted of killing someone through risky driving were jailed, and only 9% received sentences of five years or more in prison.

Bereaved relatives are backing a campaign calling on the Government to ensure motorists are not "let off" on lesser charges, which carry lower penalties.

Mandy Stock was walking home with her husband Paul when he was knocked down and killed by a motorcyclist in Gloucester two years ago.

Graham Godwin had been speeding, had a passenger illegally riding pillion and was disqualified from driving. His criminal record included 45 previous traffic offences.

A judge described him as "an absolute menace".

"He was actually charged with causing death while disqualified not dangerous or careless driving," said Mandy, 51.

"The maximum sentence for causing death while disqualified is two years, which he got, but he got six months knocked off for pleading guilty, and only spent nine months in prison, as he was allowed out half way through the term. I'm angry, very angry."

Campaigners say if someone has been killed or seriously injured on our roads, and risks were taken by those responsible, those actions should never be called "careless" in the eyes of the law, but always "dangerous", meaning judges could give maximum sentences of 14 years.

Brake deputy chief executive Julie Townsend said: "We want the Government to acknowledge how inadequate current charges and penalties are and take action to prevent traumatised families suffering further insult.

"Denying justice to victim families often has a terrible impact on their ability to rebuild and move forward with their lives.

"Brake bears witness to the consequences for these vulnerable families every day through its support services for bereaved and injured crash victims.

"Our justice system should make clear that risky, illegal behaviour on roads is no accident: it's selfish, destructive, and unacceptable."

The Ministry of Justice is currently considering whether to make changes to charges and penalties for serious driving offences.

Justice Minister Jeremy Wright said: "Road traffic offences can have very serious and sometimes devastating consequences for victims and their families.

"That is why we are looking closely at the law and giving careful consideration to all the representations received on this complex and emotive subject - and why we have asked the Sentencing Council to review their sentencing guidelines on death by driving offences.

"Judges already have some tough sentencing options available to them for driving offences - causing death by dangerous driving already carries a maximum sentence of 14 years in prison, as does causing death by careless driving when drunk or drugged.

"We also introduced a new offence of causing serious injury by dangerous driving in 2012. But the sentencing in individual cases is always a matter for the judge."

Advertisement