Otley drink-drive victim's family celebrate backing for efforts to change ‘killer’ law (From Wharfedale Observer)
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Charity joins drink-drive campaign
A mother whose son died at the hands of a drink-driver has won backing from national campaign-ers in her bid to keep killers off the roads.
Karen Strong is fighting for changes in bail conditions after the man who caused the death of her son was allowed to continue driving for eight months while the case came to court.
Jamie Still was just 16 when he was hit by a car in Otley on New Year’s Eve. The driver – Max McRae, then 21, of Warren Lane in Arthington – was both speeding and twice the legal drink-drive limit. He was jailed for four years.
But Karen felt disbelief and horror in the eight months leading up to the jail term after realising Jamie’s killer was allowed to carry on driving the same “weapon” that had taken her son’s life.
Now the family have won the backing of the national road safety charity Brake in their fight to close the loophole in the law.
Karen said: “We know so many people don’t realise this sort of thing happens after such a harrowing event.
“You think those drink-drivers are automatically taken off the road – but this is just not the case.
“Jamie was a very loving, giving person, and he would want us to make changes. He would want this to be a lasting legacy so we could help others.”
“My daughter started a petition because she feels so strongly that the law is wrong.”
Jamie’s sister, Rebecca Still, was just 13 when she launched her petition, and more than 13,000 signatures have now been gained. They also have the backing of their MP, Greg Mulholland (Lib Dem, Leeds North West), and have welcomed the support from national campaigners.
Karen said: “We, as a family, are absolutely overjoyed Brake is sup-porting our campaign. “It has been very difficult to keep the momentum of the camp-aign going due to the emotional strain, time and money required. “Brake not only has more resources than us but, as a national charity, can raise greater awareness about our plight to make our roads a safer place. We hope the government will realise this is an issue facing many families – we can only try to make their grief more bearable.”
She said her daughter had grown up fast since the death of Jamie. “They were so incredibly close. She says she doesn’t just want bail conditions but she also wants longer sentences because nobody else should lose their brother in this way.
“She feels she owes it to him – and she thinks we have to do it so other people don’t have to go through this.”
Mr Mulholland said: “Having raised this issue on several occasions on the floor of the House, including with the Prime Minister, as well as meeting with Justice Ministers to discuss the issue, I hope with the backing of Brake, we can ensure no family ever has to go through what Jamie’s family faced.”