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Personally I have never had one of my relatives killed in a car accident, and I certainly hope that it stays that way, because I dread the pain that relatives must feel when it happens.

And that pain, when caused by another driver breaking the law, can only be increased when sentences are handed out to that driver, and the bereaved feel that the sentences are too lenient.

Although not advocating an ‘eye for an eye’ approach to punishment, it is often a sentence that is seen to be disproportionate to the crime committed, and this is why the petition website at www.StopDangerousDrivers.com has been set up by Conservative MP Stephen Barclay after a university student was run down and killed by a driver travelling at TWICE the legal limit, with the killer likely to be out of jail in two years due to the sentencing guidelines that handcuff magistrates and judges.

In fact, Mr Barclay has unearthed some astonishing figures with regards to deaths on the road:

  • Last year, over 600 people were killed by dangerous drivers and 6,000 injured.
  • The maximum jail sentence for Dangerous Driving is 14 years
  • One in Ten of those convicted of Dangerous Driving got a sentence of more than 5 years.
  • One in three of those convicted of Dangerous Driving did not go to prison at all, walking away from court with just suspended sentences, community punishments or fines.
  • Six people who caused death by careless driving under the influence of drink or drugs — which also has a 14-year maximum term — were similarly let off with slapped wrists and fines.

Seemingly the reason for this, or so the judges say, is that they are constrained by "sentencing guidelines" which make it difficult for them to hand out the tough sentences appropriate for the crime.

If you add into the mix the fact that many offenders who kill are only charged of the lesser offence of "Causing Death by Careless Driving", even when the more serious charge would be more appropriate. This means the sentence available for the judges to administer is limited. The reason for this is that it is a lot more difficult to convict under the ‘Dangerous Driving’ offence than it is under ‘Careless Driving’ (because it is all to do with intent) and so the lesser charge is used to ensure conviction. This is often the case under the ABH, GBH and Assault triangle too!

So, the parents of young Jamie Butcher, the promising student at Manchester University, killed by the red light jumper in Mr Barclay’s constituency will, as the MP puts it on his petition website, have to serve the life sentence instead of the unremorseful offender.

The petition asks the reader to sign on the website but also asks them to write to the Lord Chancellor asking him to:

  • Submit a proposal to the Sentencing Council to review the guidelines for Causing Death by Dangerous Driving.
  • Review whether the lesser offence of Causing Death by Careless Driving could be abolished leaving Causing Death by Dangerous Driving as the appropriate charge for drivers that kill.