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Father hits out at 'slap on the wrist' killer driver sentences

The father of a promising university student who was killed by a dangerous driver has hit out at the Government’s progress in drafting tougher sentences for motoring offences.

Mark Hollands said he finds it ‘very disappointing’ that nothing new appears to have happened since the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) published the results of a consultation into increasing prison sentences almost exactly a year ago.

A consultation into increasing the maximum sentence for causing death by dangerous and careless driving while influenced by drink or drugs from 14 years to life was started in December 2016 and closed two months later. The findings were published in October 2017.

Cox Green resident Mark’s daughter Bryony died in 2015.

He said the slow progress in changing the law ‘sends out the message that it is not that important’.

“Last year, 191 people were convicted of causing death by dangerous driving,” he said.

Government figures show 22 people convicted of that offence got prison sentences of between seven and 10 years, 44 got between five and seven, while 59 convicted motorists got less than four years.

 “That means every other day a family devastated by the loss of a loved one gets a life sentence, while the government lets the offenders off with little more than a slap on the wrist by comparison,” Mark said.

Thomas Burney was sentenced in 2015 to eight years in prison for causing ex-Cox Green School pupil Bryony’s death, in Woodthorpe, Nottingham, by dangerous driving. She was studying at the University of Sheffield.

He is expected to be released in August next year, having served half his term.

When the Government published the MoJ consultation findings last year it found ‘considerable support’ for its plans to increase prison sentences.

July statistics from the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency revealed eight drivers in the SL6 postcode have 12 or more points on their licence.

Usually, 12 points will lead to a temporary driving ban. One motorist in the SL4 postcode has 21 points.

Although the offences those motorists have racked up may not be as serious as Burney’s, Mark said more frequent motoring offences, including speeding, are dangerous, but are not always seen by drivers as something with potentially devastating consequences.

Mark is backing road safety charity Brake’s campaign to toughen up the sentences.

A Ministry of Justice spokeswoman said: “Killer drivers ruin lives and the government is committed to making sure that the courts have sufficient powers to deal with driving offences appropriately and proportionately.

“We will bring forward proposals for changes in the law as soon as parliamentary time allows.”

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