12:00PM, Thursday 27 July 2017
The government is ‘failing children’ by its slow progress to increase sentences for criminal drivers, the father of a teenager killed by a drink-driver has warned.
Mark Hollands, from Cox Green, has been campaigning for tougher jail terms to be handed down since his daughter, 19-year-old Bryony, was killed in August 2015.
The promising musician and former Cox Green School pupil was in Woodthorpe, near Nottingham, when a driver lost control of his car, fatally injuring the 19-year-old student.
Thomas Burney was sentenced to eight years in prison for causing her death by dangerous driving and causing serious injury to her boyfriend, Ben Evans. But Mr Hollands has expressed concern Burney would probably serve much less than that.
The Ministry of Justice concluded its consultation into ‘driving offences and penalties relating to causing death or serious injury’ in February amid campaign groups’ and victims’ families’ concerns that current punishments are not severe enough. The results have not yet been published and Mr Hollands, who fears other deaths may occur before any changes are made to sentencing, has written to the Prime Minister.
“I think we need a prompt disclosure on the result of the consultation and what the Government intends to do about it,” Mr Hollands said.
He only received a response yesterday (Wednesday) from Theresa May’s office telling him the result of the consultation would be published after the summer parliamentary recess. He said: “I think they need to keep people informed. They need to provide realistic timescales. There are parents, children and siblings up and down the country who are desperate to see change.”
If necessary, he said he would be a ‘thorn in Theresa May’s side until the Government acts’.
His letter to the Maidenhead MP, sent last week, read: “This Government is failing children day-in, day-out – whether by leaving them dead or injured, or having suffered the loss of a parent, sibling or friend.”
The Hollands family has faced a difficult summer, with Bryony’s classmates at the University of Sheffield having graduated on Thursday, July 20, and the second anniversary of her death approaching on August 21.
Mr Hollands, who now works as Cookham Parish Council’s clerk, said: “We are trying to get through each day as best we can, supporting each other, often finding we don’t have the energy to do things that shouldn’t be that difficult to do.
“People talk about being devastated. I think crushed is the word; crushed into little pieces.”
His other daughter, 23-year-old Keren, has been running half-marathons to raise awareness and money for road safety campaign group Brake.
A Ministry of Justice spokesman said: “Drivers who kill ruin lives and must face the full force of the law. While we can never compensate for the loss of a loved one, we are clear the punishment must fit the crime. Last year the Government issued a consultation that will see the maximum sentence in this area increase from 14 years to life. We are now considering the consultation responses.”
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