Chad’s campaign to get tough on killer drivers

Sharon and Geoff Winter hold a photograph of their son Luke.

Sharon and Geoff Winter hold a photograph of their son Luke.

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This week, your Chad is launching a Drive For Justice Campaign.

We want changes to be made to give anguished families who have lost loved ones to reckless and criminal driving a voice to lobby for fairer sentencing.

About five people are killed on our roads daily with devastated families often angered that those responsible avoid jail, or face minor custodial sentences of three to five years or less.

No one has ever been jailed for the maximum 14 years for causing death by dangerous driving.

A family left devastated after a dangerous driver killed their son is backing the Chad’s Drive For Justice Campaign.

Geoff Winter, whose son Luke was killed by a driver showing off to his girlfriend in 2012, has added his voice to our campaign.

Our campaign, shared with Johnston Press titles around the country, calls on the Government to:

* Re-work sentencing guidelines and provide specialist training for judges so they can use the full powers available to them when deciding sentences for offenders;

* Give tougher sentences for the worst offenders;

* Have all culpable deaths treated as manslaughter /culpable homicide;

* Have more – and longer – driving bans handed out to those who kill or seriously injure on the roads, or whose driving risks injury and death;

* Examine how people are often prosecuted for the lesser charge of death by careless driving rather than death by dangerous driving. Families often feel the lesser “careless” charge undermines the severity of the offence when someone is killed or seriously hurt;

* Close the loopholes that exist as with hit-and-runs; failure to stop carries a maximum of six months’ jail while drink-driving penalties are tougher. So at present a driver who has been drinking can get a lesser sentence if they flee the scene of a collision;

* Have even tougher sentences for those who offend while drink or drug-driving, using excessive speed, are disqualified /unlicensed, or who are using their mobile phones.

Reckless driver Joseph Weston killed father-to-be Luke Winter while showing off behind the wheel to his girlfriend in August 2012.

Farm worker Weston then aged 22, was jailed after Nottingham Crown Court was told how he was seen speeding up the A60 at Cuckney Hill “like lightning”.

Accident investigators said Weston, of Longdale Lane, Ravenshead, was doing 90mph when he lost control of his high-powered Ford Fiesta on a left-hand bend, smashing head-on into Luke, of Nether Langwith, on August 15, 2012.

Geoff, Luke’s father, said: “You can’t get any worse than someone who kills someone else through their own carelessness and selfishness and they don’t give a damn.

“It was a slap in the face for us.

“Everything was stacked in favour of Weston by the judiciary. He got 50 per cent off by pleading guilty when the evidence against him was overwhelming, he got a five-year sentence and served just more than two years.

“Weston had a five-year driving ban subsequently reduced at the Court of Appeal and he was allowed to serve the ban while he was in prison.

“What sort of signal does that send out?

“We are serving a life sentence on a daily basis. He has ruined our lives – we have a granddaughter who will be four in January and she will never know her dad.

“The sentence given out should be the sentence served.

“Weston showed no remorse at all.

“The bottom line is he killed somebody – a beautiful young man .

“He is walking the streets now and he has obliterated this from his life.

“We have been tagged with a life sentence. My wife is a different person and my daughter has been badly affected.

“All the joy has gone out of life.

“It should be upgraded to manslaughter.

“They are in charge – they know what they are doing.

“If they knew they were going to serve nine years, it would make them think again.

“The judge told us his hands were tied as to what he could do and what he did award.

“I am told by John Mann MP it is being looked at and he invited me to talk about this. “Something radical needs to be done.”

Speculation is rife that the Government’s long-awaited review of dangerous driving offences and penalties may consider the possibility of increasing the maximum sentence for death by dangerous driving from 14 years to 20 years.

Although no one has actually received the maximum of 14 years since it was extended from 10 years to 14 years in 2004, campaigners believe increasing the maximum would be a good move as it will increase sentences overall.

Sam Gyimah, justice minister, said: “Driving offences can have devastating and heart-breaking consequences for victims and their families. “This government is determined to make sure sentencing fits the crime for those who kill or seriously injure on our roads.

“We will launch a consultation on dangerous driving offences and penalties by the end of the year.”