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Victims' families back Theresa May's bill for tougher dangerous driver sentences

Two Maidenhead constituents who lost loved ones because of dangerous drivers have backed their MP’s motion for tougher sentencing.

Theresa May is campaigning to make life imprisonment the maximum sentence for causing death by dangerous driving and has tabled a bill, which is due to go before the House of Commons on Tuesday.

The Ten-Minute Rule Bill, which allows backbench MPs up to 10 minutes to make their case, seeks to amend the Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988 to increase the maximum sentence for causing death by dangerous driving from 14 years to life imprisonment.

Mark Holland lost his daughter, Bryony, when she was killed by a dangerous driver at 19.

Former Cox Green School pupil Bryony was studying at the University of Sheffield when she was hit by a car in Woodthorpe, Nottingham, in 2015.

Her killer, Thomas Burney, was released on licence halfway into his eight-year sentence, so only served four years behind bars.

Mark says that based on the current law ‘the longest somebody can be in [prison] is four years and eight months’ if they plead guilty at the earliest opportunity.

However, when someone is given a life sentence, a judge has to state a minimum tariff, which is the time to be served in prison.

He said: “The whole campaign is not that there’s automatic life sentencing or anything like it, but it’s available for judges when you get cases of people who persistently drive at speed.”

Bryony Hollands, pictured with her boyfriend Ben Evans.

Mark says losing a child ‘rips you apart’.

He added: “I went to work that day, everything was normal. How can you come to terms with coming home to find out your daughter’s dead?”

He has campaigned to have the maximum sentence increased from 14 years to life since Bryony died so families who lose a loved one to dangerous driving get more justice than he and his family.

He said: “We’re grateful that Theresa has put forwards this Ten-Minute Rule Bill, and continue to be grateful for her support in this matter, but the problem is the Government aren’t doing anything.”

Mark feels this law should have been passed after the Ministry of Justice published the results of a consultation into increasing the maximum sentence for causing death by dangerous, and careless driving while influenced by drink or drugs, in October 2017.

“For those who’ve lost loved ones over the last two-and-a-half, three years since the Government promised it, it’s too late for them because their friends and families’ killers will be sentenced under the old rules.”

Cookham resident Ciara Lee lost her husband, Eddy, when he was hit on his motorcycle by a van driver on the M4 in July 2018. He was 46.

She believes her husband’s killer received an ‘insultingly low’ sentence for causing death by dangerous driving.

Paul Duxbury, from Wallingford, was sentenced to 22 months imprisonment and is now out on licence after serving half of his sentence.

“The longer it gets talked about the more cases that keep going through our courts with these insultingly low sentences,” she said.

Ciara and Eddy’s son, Seren Ying Hei is four years old now and although she ‘ploughs on’ and that in some ways she and Seren ‘still have a really good life’, she says ‘that absence is always there for me’.

Eddy Lee with Ciara and their son Seren Ying Hei.

“The pain you carry is everyday, I will never experience a fully happy moment ever, for the rest of my life, because every single moment when I experience happiness it will always be laced with the sadness that Eddy’s not here.”

She added: “My husband brought so much to so many people’s lives, he brought a lot to life, he was a positive influence on the world and that was just smashed to pieces by one persons actions, and until we really address that and give it an appropriate punishment, I don’t think things are going to change.”

In a statement Mrs May says: “I want to see my bill getting both cross-party and Government support so we can get justice for those victims who have tragically died as a result of somebody else’s dangerous driving.”

A Ministry of Justice spokesman said: “This Government is making the most serious offenders spend longer in prison and will introduce life sentences for those who cause death by dangerous driving.”

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