Following the report today by the charities, Road Justice and CTC (the national cycling charity), on the sentencing of a driver, Alexander Walters, who killed two cyclists in Berkshire this year, a Penningtons Manches’ personal injury partner questions whether the sentences available to the court are severe enough to act as a deterrent. Investigations confirmed that Walters, who was in a stolen vehicle, was not only uninsured, disqualified from driving and had drugs and alcohol over the legal limit in his blood but was also travelling over 70 mph in a 30 mph zone.
Reading Crown Court has just sentenced Walters to 10 years and three months imprisonment and a 15 year ban, click here to read more.
Philippa Luscombe, partner in the personal injury team at Penningtons Manches LLP, specialising in catastrophic and fatal injuries comments: “This a tragic story of the entirely avoidable deaths of two cyclists – both family men. From the information available, the defendant took no regard for the safety of anybody else and took every risk possible in his driving, with predictable tragic consequences. Worryingly, we are seeing this pattern of drivers driving uninsured and/or while disqualified more often – and it is often combined with alcohol and/or drugs use. In the last three years more than half of our catastrophic and fatal injury cases have involved drivers under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs and driving recklessly.
“The question is whether this sort of sentencing is deterrent and punishment enough. There have long been concerns about the levels of sentencing for such drivers and one of our clients took steps to raise awareness of this issue after the sentencing of the driver who killed her long term partner, click here. While 10 years in prison is a long sentence, does the penalty really reflect the reckless behaviour and disregard for safety of others of this individual and the devastation that he has caused? If this is the sentence for Walters’ multiple offences, it goes without saying that many other sentences arising from avoidable road fatalities are much lower.
“While we welcome the efforts of charities such as CTC and Brake to raise awareness of this issue, we believe that more needs to be done to provide effective deterrent sentences.”