It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mrs Moon. I pay tribute to the bereaved relatives with us here today, who have suffered pain and hurt.
In October 2017, the Government announced proposals to: increase the maximum penalty for causing death by dangerous driving from 14 years’ imprisonment to life; increase the maximum penalty for causing death by careless driving under the influence of drink or drugs from 14 years’ imprisonment to life; and create a new offence of causing serious injury by careless driving. It is now 2019 and we are still waiting for those changes to be implemented. The Government constantly tell us, “We will bring forward proposals for reform of the law as soon as parliamentary time allows.” When will that be? These proposals are necessary to improve safety on our roads, act as a deterrent to would-be offenders and restore fairness in our justice system. Moreover, they enjoy wide cross-party support and are therefore relatively straightforward to implement. There is simply no excuse for the continued delay.
Let us be clear: while the Government dither, families such as the Platt-May family from Coventry continue to see the killers of their loved ones receive paltry prison sentences, which simply adds to their grief and sense of injustice. Two-year-old Caspar and six-year-old Corey Platt-May were two lovely little boys who lived in my constituency, only yards from where I was brought up as a child. In February last year, they were killed in a horrific hit-and-run incident at the hands of a driver who had no licence or insurance, was doing more than 60 mph in a built-up residential area and was high on cocaine at the time. The driver was given a meagre nine-year jail term, which was increased to 10.5 years on appeal, while the Platt-May family were sentenced to a lifetime of grief at the loss of Corey and Casper. They suffered the double injustice of seeing the perpetrator receive a prison sentence of just a few years.
Casper and Corey’s mother, Louise, said:
“what our family has had to go through, and will continue to experience for the rest of our lives, highlights the need for the toughest possible sentences to be handed out to drivers who ruin lives. We call on the Government to honour Corey and Casper’s legacy by ensuring its proposals for tougher sentences for drivers who kill are made law as soon as practically possible.”
It is time for the Government to heed that call, honour Corey and Casper’s legacy and introduce legislation immediately so that drivers who kill are jailed appropriately.
While it is true that no sentence can alleviate the anguish caused by the loss of a loved one in such horrendous circumstances, a lenient sentence can and does add to a family’s pain. Families are being ripped apart through tragedy, and although nothing can bring their loved ones back, an appropriate prison sentence, which more closely reflects the severity and impact of the crime, keeps the killer off the roads and prevents them from causing similar misery to another family, will surely bring them a semblance of comfort.
It is in the Government’s gift to provide that comfort to these grieving families, to make our roads safer and to put in place a law that is both a proper deterrent and a punishment. I urge the Minister to act without further delay.