Peterborough MPs back campaign to increase sentencing options for drink drivers who kill

Peterborough MPs have called for the Government to introduce life sentences for drink drivers who kill after a man who caused a crash which killed a Peterborough was given just a nine year sentence.

Tuesday, 21st January 2020, 4:00 pm

The current maximum sentence available for people convicted of causing death by dangerous driving - including those who were under the influence of drink or drugs - is 14 years.

Last week Adam White was given a nine year sentence - meaning he will serve about four and a half years behind bars - after admitting causing the crash which killed Katy Cunningham, left her daughter, Freya (11) fighting for her life in hospital, and seriously injured Katy’s son, Zac (8) and Sharon Almey (51).

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Adam White

White had previous convictions for drink driving - and was even caught drink driving again just months after the fatal crash.

In October 2017 the Government announced plans to give judges the option of imposing life sentences - but more than two years later, there has still been no timetable announced for when it will be made law. It was left out of the Queen’s Speech after last month’s election.

The Peterborough Telegraph has been campaigning for plans to be made law, following a number of cases involving fatal car crashes caused by motorists driving under the influence.

Today, Peterborough MP Paul Bristow and North West Cambridgeshire MP Shailesh Vara backed the calls.

Mr Bristow said the Cunningham family had been given a ‘life sentence’ by White’s actions - and that White deserved a much harsher sentence.

He said; “It’s crucial that in cases like this that justice is seen to be done and the public is safe in future.

“What he (White) has done is unforgivable.

“That White was back behind the wheel shows not only did he not learn his lesson from previous convictions, nor from the death and serious injury he caused. He should get a life sentence like the relatives of Katy Cunningham have you endure.

“It’s good the Government are legislating to give those who cause death by drink driving a life sentence. Now is the time to get on with it.”

Mr Vara said: “Many people will rightly take the view that an effective sentence of four and a half years in a case such as this is simply too low.

“I am writing to the Lord Chancellor (The Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice, Robert Buckland) regarding the sentencing in this tragic case and asking when the 2017 proposal, to provide life sentences as an option for judges, will be coming to the Commons to be progressed.”

Last week in Parliament former Prime Minister Theresa May asked Mr Buckland when the law would be changed.
Mr Buckland said: “I have met in this place families of victims of this appalling crime and worked with hon. Members across the House on the issue. I want to get on with it. The commitment remains absolutely crystal clear. I very much hope that we can have a vehicle to do that. I am going to be doing a sentencing Bill this year; that could be one vehicle. I want to get on with this as soon as possible. We will have the time and the support of the Government to change the law in the right direction.”

When approached by The Peterborough Telegraph about when the law would change, a spokesman for Mr Buckland directed us to his comments in response to Mrs May’s question.

A spokesman for road safety charity Brake said; “Death and serious injury on our roads cause terrible suffering every day. Yet, tragically, drivers who kill all too often receive lenient sentences leaving grieving relatives feeling grossly let down by our legal system.

“We need laws that act as a deterrent to dangerous drivers, and penalties that reflect the suffering caused.

“By continuing to delay the introduction of tougher sentences for killer drivers, the Government is causing further suffering to families who have lost loved ones in road crashes. The Government must implement these tougher sentences as a priority, delivering justice to bereaved families.”