OPINION: Is the legal system doing right by Peterborough’s Elisha?

Hit and run victim  Elisha Hills-Steedman (10)  back at home from hospital. EMN-170218-170941009
Hit and run victim Elisha Hills-Steedman (10) back at home from hospital. EMN-170218-170941009
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I believe the rehabilitation of criminals is best for all of us. And therefore I accept that “locking the door and throwing away the key’’ is not an option.

But sometimes the sentences handed out by the courts baffle me.

Thornton on Thursday column with Peterborough Telegraph's deputy editor Nigel Thornton - peterboroughtoday.co.uk

Thornton on Thursday column with Peterborough Telegraph's deputy editor Nigel Thornton - peterboroughtoday.co.uk

The case of James Millard is one example.

Millard (22), of High Street, Fletton was high on drugs when he got behind the wheel of a Ford Focus.

Driving at twice the speed limit along Bourges Boulevard, he lost control of his vehicle and smashed into a family walking along the pavement.

Little seven-year-old Elisha Hills-Steedman was thrown in the air and badly injured. Her family feared she would die.

And Millard? He didn’t even stop at the scene.

In an instant the family’s life was turned upside down, never to be the same again... and not for the better. Mum Michelle Steedman , who was also badly hurt in the crash, says the family are suffering a life sentence.

Millard isn’t. He could have been jailed for five years, but he was given just 14 months. His defence even pressed for a suspended sentence!

Even if he keeps his nose clean – and as he had taken cocaine that day, that’s not a given – he will be back on the streets in seven months, maybe even earlier.

I have to cling to the hope that Millard will learn his lesson and when he comes out of jail he will be a decent, useful member of society.

But if he isn’t, and he does something like this again... we should throw away the key.

Nice to call you:

Everyone was sad at the news of the death of Sir Bruce Forsyth. He was of course one of Britain’s greatest and best loved entertainers on shows from The Generation Game to Strictly Come Dancing.

For the inhabitants of Telegraph Towers, we all had a special soft spot for Bruce.

Back in 2009, reporter Kirsten Beacock was putting together a tribute piece after the death of Peterborough entertainer Edmund Hockridge.

The phone rang and somebody shouted across the office: “Kirsten, I’ve got Bruce Forsyth for you.’’

And indeed it was, not his agent or some lackey but the great man himself.

He chatted away happily for a quarter of an hour paying tribute to his old pal who he called ‘a real gentleman’.

It’s hard to imagine many of today’s generation of stars would take the time to contact a local newspaper.

You have one job

You’d have to be a strange person not to welcome an upgrade of the A47 between the A1 junction at Wansford and Sutton. It is a horrible stretch of road that is clearly not fit for purpose and has been the scene of some terrible crashes. However, the details of the plans put forward by Highways England have met with a lukewarm response.

But let’s hope Highways England gets it right this time. Faith in its abilities are wearing thin in this part of the country after the recent shambles of the A1 (M) slip road closures at Haddon that caused gridlock across the city. And it wasn’t so long ago on the same stretch of the A47 that the agency spent a chunk of taxpayers’ money installing “intelligent’’ traffic lights.

Intelligent, maybe, but unnecessary, definitely.

University challenge

Well done to the A-level students whose efforts meant Peterborough scored above the national average for the third year running. Let’s hope it won’t be too long before our bright young things are able to continue their education at their hometown university.