Current system flawed and confused, says MP

Wharfedale Observer: Otley teenager Jamie Still who died when he was knocked down by a drink driver in 2010 Otley teenager Jamie Still who died when he was knocked down by a drink driver in 2010

The tragic death of an Otley teenager who was hit by a drink-driver was raised in Parliament this week.

MP Greg Mulholland (Lib Dem, Leeds North West) spoke about what happened to 16-year-old Jamie Still on New Year’s Eve, 2010, during a debate on dangerous driving.

Jamie, a student at St Mary’s School, Menston, was fatally hit by a car being driven by over-the-limit Max McRae.

Jamie’s family have been campaigning ever since to get the law toughened to spare other families the anguish they have had to go through.

A legal review of dangerous driving is currently under way and Mr Mulholland, who has been supporting the family, said Monday’s debate was an important opportunity to identify what changes were needed.

He said: “The simple reality is that the UK judicial system does not properly reflect the seriousness of the crime of killing someone with a car, and all too often this denies victims and families the justice they deserve.

“I am pleased there have been some positive changes and that there is now a review, as we clearly need commonsensical changes to the law and sentencing of those convicted with killing people through criminal driving.

“The current system is flawed and confused, as too many people who are guilty of causing death by dangerous driving are instead charged with the lesser offence of death by careless driving – even when it is self evident their behaviour was wilful, reckless, seriously dangerous and a threat to life.

“I support national road safety charity Brake in calling for the crime of Causing Death by Careless Driving to be abolished and all such cases being regarded as Causing Death by Dangerous Driving.

“We also need to see an end to the absurdity whereby driving bans are served at the same time people are in prison – it is obviously commonsense that any ban should only commence once someone is released.”

Mr Mulholland is also calling for compensation to be paid, from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Fund, to the families of those killed by criminal driving. Jamie’s mother, Karen Strong, said: “It’s great there is across-the- board agreement in Parliament that a change in the law is needed. I hope that the Government will listen to these calls and that the review is successful.”

Brake campaigns officer Ed Morrow said: “The charge of causing death by careless driving should be scrapped in favour of the charge of causing death by dangerous driving, with a range of sentencing options reflecting the true seriousness of the crime. We are extremely grateful to Mr Mulholland for backing this call and bringing it to the attention of Parliament.”

Mr Mulholland, who co-sponsored the debate, also raised the case of retired Cookridge couple David and Dorothy Metcalf, who were killed on New Year’s Day, 2012.

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