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‘Cumbrian courts too lenient on death crash drivers’ says family of killed woman

The family of a young Wigton woman killed in a crash have called for tougher penalties for drivers who cause death on the roads.

Catherine McNeil photo
Catherine McNeil

Related: Cumbrian death crash driver gets prison sentence cut

Their comments came after a man who knocked down and killed a pregnant woman in Penrith in a separate incident had his jail sentence cut from two years to 18 months.

Anne-Marie McCreadie, 29, of Lowry Hill, Carlisle, died along with her unborn son when a BMW driven by Andrew Harrison mounted the pavement in Wilson Row, Penrith, in May last year.

Harrison, of Pategill Park, Penrith, was convicted of causing death by dangerous driving and was jailed for two years at Carlisle Crown Court in July.

Lord Justice Laws, sitting at London’s Criminal Appeal Court on Wednesday, said the sentence was “manifestly excessive”.

But Andi Crossman, 26, from Wigton – whose sister-in-law Cath McNeil, 20, was killed when a teenage driver lost control of his car – has hit out at the sentences handed down to motorists who cause death by dangerous or careless driving and called for punishments to be brought into line with those for manslaughter.

He said: “If you get into a fight and you knock a person to the ground and they hit their head and die you are charged with manslaughter.

“So if a death is due to the actions of a person they should be punished the same.”

Passenger Cath died after teenager Jamie Sparkes crashed his Fiat into a tree near Brocklebank, on the road between Red Dial and Caldbeck, in February last year.

Sparkes pleaded guilty to causing death by careless driving and was handed a suspended 10-month-jail sentence in May.

The court heard that the teenager, of Ravenswood, Kirkbride, near Wigton, passed his test just days before the accident and was said to have driven along a remote country road at speeds of 70mph.

Mr Crossman said he has been left “disgusted” at Andrew Harrison’s reduced sentence.

He said: “It is hard enough to deal with the grief from the loss of your loved one without being told that his sentence was too steep for taking a life.

“I lost my sister to a car crash two years ago where the person driving pleaded guilty to causing her death by careless driving. He was sentenced to a suspended 10-month sentence and 250 hours of unpaid work.

“To say my family was outraged is an understatement. I think the sentence for causing a death by driving dangerous or careless driving should be up alongside murder and manslaughter.

“If you get behind the wheel of a car or any kind of vehicle it is the driver’s responsibility for the safety of people in the car or people around them.”

Mr Crossman, who has raised thousands of pounds for the Great North Air Ambulance who tried to save Cath, added: “I really feel for the family of the girl who lost her life due to the stupidity of another as I know exactly what they are going through.”

Have your say

LetsBeRational says "The law is that everyone is treated as equal in the eyes of the law." That isn't true. Killer car drivers get softer sentences than speeding motorcyclists who haven't even injured anyone. That is a fact and the issue is being fought by Motorcycle News.

Posted by K Graham on 8 December 2010 at 16:46

GS, have you actually read the news story. Firsty, Greatest sympathy to the loved one in this tragic accident. Please do not mistake this as me defending any wrongdoing of the defendant.

Many people drive without ABS depends on the age of his car. The law is that everyone is treated as equal in the eyes of the law. For example..a police driver who causes an accident is to be regarded as having no higher standard of driving, and a learner driver is to be regarded as having the same standard of driving as an experienced driver, should either cause an accident. The outline of this particular report is that the car was in a road-worthy condition. I agree that, in this case, the sentence should not be reduced, as this was a clear act of DANGEROUS driving. My argument, is that a charge of death by CARELESS driving should be taken where death is simply a tragic outcome.

In reply to Billy, I agree to some extent. A £30 fine is not going to deter someone who is careless (changing the radio station, for example) and is lucky that a child didnt walk out in front of the car. A resulting death, however, will act as a deterrant. However, the additional prison sentence, or whatever, is an added extra. It seems to me that a prison sentence is only added out of respect for the loved ones families. There should be a clear distinction between death by careless and death by dangerous driving, where dangerous will have a prison sentence imposed and careless will not. You cannot send someone to prison simply because they were unlucky, especially when someone else would only get, what, 3points because no-one died as a result.

Posted by LetsBeRational on 8 December 2010 at 11:43

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