The devastated father of a Langwith Junction man who was killed by a speeding driver ‘showing off’ at 90mph has labelled a high court’s decision to cut his jail term as ‘a massive kick in the teeth’.
Joseph Weston (22), lost control of his souped-up Fiesta to veer onto the wrong side of the road and smash head on into the Citroen Saxo of Luke Winter (24) who died on impact.
The incident happened on a notoriously dangerous 50mph stretch of the A60 near Cuckney Hill, in between Church Warsop and Cuckney, in August 2012.
Weston was initially sentenced to five years in prison and banned for driving for five years. However, at a Court of Appeal hearing in London on Friday, three top judges deemed that punishment excessive, feeling Weston had shown ‘genuine remorse’.
As a result, the sentence was cut by eight months and the driving ban to four years.
Speaking after the decision, Geoff Winter said: “The defence barrister spoke for 20 minutes in court about how remorseful Weston was, but we haven’t seen any.
“The only thought he had, in my opinion, was saving his selfish, irresponsible hide because he had not gut the guts to take his punishment on the chin. Luke was a totally innocent victim, but it seems he was judged as insignificant.
“The barrister never mentioned the irrevocably devastating impact on our lives and that to face it without Luke is incredibly sad. The outcome is another massive kick in the teeth for us as a family.
“People ask me, are we bitter? Of course we are. We’ve heard all about Weston and what they can do for him, but what about us? Our grief is ever-present and constant.
“The bottom line is that Weston chose to be selfish and irresponsible and has shattered our lives. We are the ones paying for his actions.”
Luke’s long-term partner, Keely Nattrass, now 25, had been expecting a baby at the time of the crash.
Mr Winter explained that she has been forced to ‘pick up the pieces of her life’ and care for their 11-month-old daughter Nancy Rachel Winter, as a single parent.
He said: “Although they were not married, they would have been this year. They’d have been together for 11 years, since the age of 14, but now’s she’s having to cope on her own. Luke had got a cracking job and brilliant prospects and he was just such a lovely fella.
“Instead, Keely is now struggling along on benefits and working three days a week in a care home for the severely disabled, but she is such a gutsy young lady.”
The court heard a taxi driver described how Weston ‘shot off like lightning’ from traffic lights, while a witness said his car seemed to be ‘flying’ down the road and another termed his driving ‘aggressive’ as he approached where he lost control.
Weston, of Longdale Lane, Ravenshead, also sustained fractures in the accident and has no memory of the tragic incident.
“What we have been subjected over the last 17 months is a horrible experience,” added Mr Winter. “We were told that the justice system is victim-driven, but from what we’ve seen, that’s the biggest load of tosh I have ever heard. They just seem to give out the lowest punishments.
“What started out as a nine-year sentence could see Weston now ending up serving only 22 months and it will be effectively an 18-month ban given he will serve some of it while in prison, which is a joke. In by book, he shouldn’t have been allowed to appeal.”
Mr Winter described it as a ‘traumatic experience’ for the details of the crash to be read out in court and also felt the public purse had not been given best value for money because of the appeals process.
He said: “Because he (Weston) pleaded guilty, it was said would be of benefit for the tax payer.
“But when an appeal case is in the High Court is presided over by three judges with barristers, police staff and other court staff in attendance, how is that cost effective?
“Not only that, but we had to sit and listen to what happened in a very graphic manner. They told us that Weston was going so fast that his engine ended up 75 yards down the road. How does that help relieve our grief?”
Average speed cameras have since been installed either side of Cuckney Hill following a Chad campaign after Luke became the sixth person since 2006 to die on that section of road.
Around 1,500 people signed a Chad petition calling for action, which was taken to County Hall by former Chad editor Tracy Powell, Mansfield MP Sir Alan Meale and Warsop county councillor John Allin.