Rochdale campaign encourages longer sentences for death by dangerous driving

[First published on Quays News 07/12/16]

DRIVERS found guilty of death by dangerous driving could face life sentences under new proposals put forward by Government Ministers.

Ian and Dawn Brown-Lartey, from Rochdale, launched the Justice for Joseph campaign, which called for tougher sentences for death by dangerous driving and death by careless driving, after their son was killed in November 2014.

Joseph Brown-Lartey’s car was hit by Addil Haroon who ran a red light at 80mph in a 30mph zone.

Credit: GMP

Image Credit: GMP

Haroon drove on the M62 between Leeds and Rochdale and posted a photo to Snapchat of the speedometer which read 142mph.

Haroon pleaded guilty to dangerous driving and was sentenced to six years in prison but had his sentence reduced.

Speaking on BBC Breakfast, Dawn Brown-Lartey said: “Our life changed beyond recognition.

“You feel that you’ve been let down by the justice system, the police were saying that this was the most severe crash that they’d gone to on an urban road.

“And this boy, he’s just a boy, is only going to serve three years and in a young offenders.”

The Justice for Joseph campaign spread on social media with the hashtags #RoadsToJustice and #JusticeforJoseph and gained over 20,000 signatures to review sentencing for dangerous driving.

The campaign was supported by MP for Heywood and Middleton, Liz McInnes who said: “I am delighted to welcome the news.

“Since first meeting them I have been inspired by the dignity and determination of Dawn and Ian to get justice for their son.

“Sadly, their experience is far too common and the law has not delivered the justice they deserve.”

The Labour MP added: “I would urge as many people as possible to take part in the consultation and make sure we get the right result.”

The wreckage caused by the crash that killed the 25-year-old was displayed outside Parliament in July as part of the campaign.

Currently the maximum sentence that judges can impose for death by dangerous driving is 14 years imprisonment.

The consultation will closer analyse the distinction between careless driving and dangerous driving.

Death by careless driving whilst under the influence of drink or drugs could be extended from 14 years imprisonment to a life sentence under the new proposals.

Ministers may also implement three year jail terms for careless driving causing serious injury.

Road safety charity Brake, which provides support to families and individuals devastated by road death and serious injury, backed the plight of Mr and Mrs Brown-Lartey.

Gary Rae, campaigns director for Brake, said: “This is a vindication of our efforts, and those of victims’ families, calling for change through our Roads to Justice campaign.

“For too long, the justice system has treated them as second class citizens.

“We do remain concerned that the charge of careless driving could remain. Some of the strongest feedback we have received from the families we work with is that there is nothing careless about taking someone else’s life.

“We also want clarification on whether the current automatic 50 per cent discount, where convicted drivers serve only half their term in jail, will still apply for these new, proposed sentences.”

Justice Minister, Sam Gyimah said: “Killer drivers ruin lives. Their actions cause immeasurable pain to families, who must endure tragic, unnecessary losses.

“While impossible to compensate for the death of a loved one, we are determined to make sure the punishment fits the crime,” and added, “my message is clear, if you drive dangerously and kill on our roads, you could face a life sentence.”

The consultation closes February 1, 2017.

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