Killer drivers' sentences appealed
26.03.09 by Buffalo Bill
As regular readers of Moving Target will know, drivers that cause fatal collisions are often charged with minor offences, and even where found guilty of more serious charges, are often given trivial administrative penalties, ie fines and penalty points, as opposed to disqualification from driving for significant periods.
According to this story, several drivers convicted of the most serious driving offence, causing death by dangerous driving (which lorry drivers who have killed through inattention are almost never charged), including one who killed a cyclist, are having their ‘too lenient’ sentences referred to the Chief Justice by the Attorney General.
Any decision to increase the sentence will have the effect of setting policy, under the British legal system of precedence, in which judges have to consider the decisions of more senior judges in their deliberations.
As I said here:
Personally, I am not a big fan of prison – I remain to be convinced that it works as a means of reform, and I don’t see the point of punishment by imprisonment, especially not when it costs the tax-payer £300/week. I understand the arguments about deterrence and so forth, but the other hand one has to consider that a possible prison sentence might act as an incentive to flee the scene.
To me, a community order is an appropriate punishment, and an imaginative order might result in the offender working for a road crash charity like Brake or Roadpeace. Which would mean that the offender would be set to work to help put right what they had done. Surely a much better outcome than rotting in jail?
But heavy sentences are a message to society that behaving with criminal negligence in a motor-vehicle is not acceptable. So whilst my reservations about the sentencing remain, particularly in respect of the disqualification period – why should they ever get their license back? Does the DQ period run concurrently with prison time? – this is a positive step. Let’s hope that the Chief Justice takes a view that the sentences were too lenient.Guardian piece on Sheppard's death and trial by media
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