Peterborough Telegraph campaign victory: Sister of grandfather killed by drug driver says the ‘legal system failed us’ as law is changed
The sister of a Peterborough grandfather killed by a drug driver has backed a change in legislation to allow drivers who kill while under the influence of drink or drugs a life sentence.
Michael Howard (42) died after being hit by Neville Smith, who was in a stolen car in Bretton in August 2018.
Smith, who was high on drugs at the time, was jailed for six years and four months in jail and disqualified from driving for five years after pleading guilty to causing death by dangerous driving, aggravated vehicle taking causing death, bilking, theft of number plates, causing death whilst uninsured, causing death whilst disqualified, and failing to stop after a collision.
The sentence meant Smith, who was 22 at the time, of Elms Road, Harrow, would be released after just three years and two months.
The maximum sentence available was one of 14 years.
The Peterborough Telegraph has been campaigning for judges to be given the option to give life sentences to drink and drug drivers who kill - and last week the Government announced new legislation would give judges that choice.
The sentence handed down to Smith left Michael’s family devastated - and they have welcomed the change in the law.
Michael’s sister, Ann Kidd, said: “I think the reform to the legislation is long overdue and will help to give families some peace of mind that the offenders will get a more fitting punishment for their crimes.
“The legal system failed us by being too lenient on Neville Smith, had he been properly punished for his previous crimes he should have been detained in custody and would not have killed my brother on the 22nd August 2018. His constant disregard for the law and multiple offences are just an indication of how criminals with his background know they can break the law with minimal consequence.
“This new change to legislation would not have saved my brother, but it may well save another family from having to deal with the grief and pain of having a loved one taken from you in such a sudden and horrific manner.
“For us knowing that his “Killer” will be released in just a few years does not compare to our lifelong grief.
“My brother has grandchildren that he will never know and all of the life he will miss and we will not share together because of an idiotic, selfish joyride by a young man. Its constantly on our minds knowing he will be released soon and in effect will be free to take another life through his reckless actions. “We know that many offenders don’t truly reform and making the law tougher and giving longer sentences may help to deter the re-offenders and would mean they had longer without freedom to truly understand the consequences of their actions and understand the pain and suffering they have caused to their victims families.
“We support the new legislation 100% and hope that it makes a difference in deterring those who may choose to drive in a reckless manner going forward.”