Families back Peterborough Telegraph campaign for killer drink and drug drivers to get life in jail
The family of a biker killed by a drug driver have backed a new Peterborough Telegraph campaign for tougher sentences for drivers who kill while intoxicated.
Last week Tommy Whitmore was jailed for eight years and four months for causing the death of Marko Makula (22) and his 21-year-old fiancee Jana Kockova - who had two young children - and her 19-year-old brother Tomas Kocko. Whitmore had been drinking and smoking cannabis before the crash on the Frank Perkins Parkway.
Marko’s brother Mario said the family of the three Peterborough victims were ‘devastated’ by the sentence - and called for tougher punishments for drink and drug drivers who kill, who at the moment cannot receive more than 14 years in prison. Mario labelled the sentence handed out to Whitmore as ‘insulting.’
Now the family of Michael Howard, a grandfather who was killed by a driver who was high on drugs, have backed the calls to increase sentences handed out. Michael died after being hit by Neville Smith, who was in a stolen car in Bretton. Smith was jailed for six years and four months after admitting causing death by dangerous driving, and a number of other offences.
Ann Kidd, Michael’s brother, said: “When you listen to the levels of punishment being discussed and realise that it can be categorised into different sentences it is heart-wrenching to think that taking a life by crime isn’t seen as murder and quite often the offender gets less than a year.
“In our case hearing that he would be sentenced using the highest possible category felt justified and with a guide of eight to 14 years we felt this was the right decision.
“However, we did not expect that he would be given the least amount of years possible and felt that the starting point should be 14 years and not the eight the judge began with.
“Neville Smith will only serve half the sentence he was given and in just over three years he will be released - at just 25 he will still have his whole life ahead of him.
“His crime means that my family will always feel they are missing a part of them for the rest of their lives. There isn’t a day goes past where we don’t think of Mikey or think we have seen him. Whilst we know our grief will subside we have lost our future with Mikey, but Neville Smith still gets to walk free and continue with his life after serving only half of his sentence.
“We know that giving bigger sentences will not bring your loved one back but it does give you peace of mind the offender will at least share some of your pain for their crime.”
Another drug driver killer was Richard Frost who was jailed for 12 years for an 18 hour cocaine binge which saw him kill two friends in Yaxley in January 2017.
At the end of 2017 the Government set out plans to introduce life sentences for people who cause death by dangerous driving and for careless drivers who kill while under the influence of drink or drugs, but since then no legislation has been introduced.
North West Cambridgeshire MP Shailesh Vara said he was writing to the Justice Secretary to try to push legislation through. He said: “We need to deal very robustly with those who are guilty of death by dangerous driving and the tougher sentencing powers need to be brought in as soon as possible.”
A Ministry of Justice spokesperson said: “We will bring forward proposals for changes in the law when parliamentary time allows.”