MEETING WITH JUSTICE MINISTER TO PRESS FOR STRONGER SENTENCES FOR DANGEROUS DRIVING
Alok Sharma, the Member of Parliament for Reading West, together with constituents Tracey Fidler and Hayley Lindsay met with Minister for Prisons, Sam Gyimah, to discuss stronger sentences for dangerous driving and the recent consultation on driving offences held by the Ministry of Justice.
Tracey’s and Hayley’s fiancées, Kris Jarvis and John Morland, were hit and killed in Purley on 13th February 2014 by a vehicle being driven by a man called Alexander Walter. At the time Walter was already disqualified from driving, was driving 70mph in a 30mph zone whilst being pursued by police, was two and a half times over the alcohol limit and had taken cocaine in the previous 24 hours.
Walter was subsequently found guilty of two counts of death by dangerous driving and aggravated vehicle taking but only received a sentence of 10 years and 3 months.
Tracey and Hayley feel that the current sentencing framework is too lenient and started campaigning three years ago for a change in the law. Their proposal would mean that a driver who is found guilty of causing death by dangerous driving receives the maximum sentence, of 14 years, per person who has been killed, with each sentence to run consecutively and not concurrently.
Tracey and Hayley set up an e-petition, calling for a change in the law, which received over 102,000 signatures when it closed in March 2015. As a part of promoting Tracey and Hayley’s campaign Alok Sharma took them to meet relevant ministers, including the then Prime Minister David Cameron. Alok also led two debates in Parliament to highlight the need for tougher sentences for dangerous driving.
At the discussion with Minister Gyimah, Tracey and Hayley explained the background to their case and the reasons why there need to be stronger sentences for dangerous driving. Mr Gyimah noted that around 9,000 submissions had been received in relation to the consultation, the largest level of responses to any previous Ministry of Justice consultation.
Amongst the items discussed were:
Alok Sharma said: “Tracey and Hayley are two of the bravest people I know. They started their petition for a change in the law three years ago and in meetings with Ministers and the former Prime Minister, David Cameron, we have collectively pushed for a formal consultation. I am therefore absolutely delighted that this consultation has now taken place and I very much hope that we will see a change in the law in this Parliament.”
Alok continued: “In my submission to the consultation I have suggested that the maximum penalty for causing death by dangerous driving, in the most aggravated cases such as Alexander Walter’s crime, should be life. I have also noted that there should be a minimum amount of time that must be served without any remission. At the end of the day justice has to be seen to be done. And for the worst offences, life must mean life.”
Hayley Lindsay said: “We’d like to see the law on sentencing for dangerous driving changed so that the punishment truly does fit the crime. We want justice to be done, we can’t get it for ourselves now, but we want the loss of Kris and John to mean something and lead to a change in the law to help other families.”
Photo: Alok Sharma, Reading resident Karen Rowland, Minister Sam Gymiah, Hayley Lindsay, Tracey Fidler, Minister Sam Gymiah