One in three convicted killer drivers escapes a jail sentence despite taking lives and devastating those of their victims’ families, damning new analysis of official Government figures have revealed.
And around half escape any kind of custodial sentence if young offenders’ institutions are included in the equation.Only 1 in 10 gets a sentence of more than 5 years – and no driver convicted for a death has ever received the maximum sentence of 14 years.The analysis of official Ministry of Justice figures is revealed today by Conservative North East Cambridgeshire MP Steve Barclay as he launches an online campaign demanding killer drivers receive tougher penalties.
The MP said lenient sentencing highlighted ‘a failure of the justice system’ which wasn’t working.He said the will of Parliament was being ignored by the courts because the sentencing guidelines are too weak: ‘In 2004 Parliament increased the maximum sentence from 10 years to 14 years reflected the seriousness of the offence, but sentences do not reflect this.’
He said the MoJ figures showed that in 2011 some 408 people found guilty of causing death by careless or dangerous driving. Some 211 went to prison of whom only 37 went to prison for more than 5 years. But 197 escaped prison.When those sent to young offender’s institutes are excluded, the MP calculates that more than 150 escape prison – or more than a third of the total.The MP’s new website at www.StopDangerousDrivers.com goes live today with a campaign video.
It features the family of 22-year-old student Jamie Butcher from Wisbech, Cambridgeshire, who was killed on a pedestrian crossing in the town in February last year by a dangerous driver who ran a red light at nearly twice the speed limit.The graduate of De Montford University in Leicester had been accepted for a postgraduate course at Manchester University just the day before he was killed instantly on a pedestrian crossing by a driver who went through the red light at 58mph – nearly twice the 30mph speed limit – in his powerful Chrysler Cruiser.
Jamie’s body was thrown more than 40 yards from the impact.Prosecutors said the son of a hard-working and close-knit family had left home at 4pm to walk into the town centre to withdraw £20 from a cash machine.The driver Michael Moore, 40, of Parson Drove near Wisbech, who had previous convictions for speeding and burglary, showed no emotion as he was jailed this April for just 43 months after admitting causing death by dangerous driving in the horrific crash.But with good behaviour he could be out within two years, fear the victim’s family.
The court heard Moore had been 82 metres from the crossing when the lights turned amber but had not braked until after hitting his victim. Judge Gareth Hawkesworth said it was ‘a tragic case’ which had also ‘shattered’ the lives of Jamie’s family.Conservative MP Mr Barclay said last night: ‘The driver has shown no remorse since, which has been particularly painful for the family.’The sentence means he is likely to be out of prison in less than two years.
‘Jamie’s family say they received a life sentence.’Mr Barclay said: ‘Bereaved families are right when they say lenient sentences for Causing Death by Dangerous Driving are a failure of the Justice System.‘Parliament increased the maximum sentence from 10 to 14 years in 2004, reflecting the seriousness of the offence. ‘However, this has never been used, and one in three of those convicted escape jail altogether.‘The fact tough penalties are not being used shows that the will of Parliament is being ignored.
‘Judges say they are constrained by guidelines which prevent them from handing out longer sentences.‘That’s why I’ve launched this campaign at www.StopDangerousDrivers.com to call for a change in this guidance.’Mr Barclay added: ‘Last year 150 drivers who killed did not go to prison at all. Only 37 received more than five years.‘No sentence can ever bring back a loved one. ‘However, we can make sure that dangerous drivers who kill receive the tough penalties they deserve.’
‘Jamie’s mother Tina, sister Hollie and stepfather Steve Green say their lives have been ‘torn apart’ since he was mown down.Stepfather Steve says on the featured video: ‘Knowing that this guy with good behaviour could be let out and joining his family in two years doesn’t seem like justice.’For us, losing Jamie is like a life sentence.’Jamie’s sister Hollie, 20, a veterinary nurse said: ’It isn’t fair.
‘He needs to go down for longer than that.’People like our family are left heartbroken every day because people get too short a sentence.The family have also set up their own ‘Justice for Jamie’ website.Julie Townsend, deputy chief executive, Brake, the road safety charity, said: ‘This campaign is crucial because letting off drivers who kill with lenient sentences, or sometimes no jail term at all, implies that driving dangerously, even when it results in loss of life and terrible suffering, is only a minor transgression.’These crimes must be treated more seriously with fitting punishments handed out.’