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Tougher sentences for dangerous drivers following petition from local families

Families of cyclists killed in Purley-on-Thames win campaign for law changes

Tougher sentences for dangerous drivers following petition from local families

THE families of two cyclists killed by a dangerous driver in West Berkshire have won their fight for tougher justice.

John Morland and Kris Jarvis died in Purley-on-Thames after being hit by a car driven by 31-year-old Alexander Farrar Walters in 2014.

Walters, driving while disqualified and without insurance, was more than two-and-a-half times over the alcohol blood limit, had taken cocaine in the previous 24 hours and was driving at 70mph in a 30mph zone while being pursued by police.

He was sentenced to 10 years and three months in prison for dangerous driving and aggravated vehicle taking, and 12 months for each of the other offences to run concurrently.

Mr Morland, aged 30, from Tilehurst, and Mr Jarvis, 39, from Reading, left behind seven children. 

Angry at the “little slap on the wrist” sentence, Mr Morland’s fiancée, Hayley Lindsay, and Mr Jarvis’ partner, Tracey Fidler, appealed the judgment. 

The pair set up a national petition calling on the Government to introduce consecutive sentencing for each person killed by a dangerous driver.

Their petition received more than 100,000 signatures and the families met with the then Prime Minister David Cameron and several ministers to put their case for changes to the law.

Their three-year campaign came to a successful end last week when ministers confirmed that drivers who cause death by speeding, racing or using a mobile phone could face sentences equivalent to manslaughter.

Maximum penalties will be raised from 14 years to life.

Offenders who cause death by careless driving while under the influence of drink or drugs will face life sentences, while a new offence of causing serious injury by careless driving will be introduced.

Miss Fidler said: “This is brilliant news and we are over the moon and so pleased the Government has listened to us. 

“Nothing will bring back John and Kris, but this change will help other families and also deter drivers from breaking the law.”

The pair were helped in their fight for justice by the MP for Reading West, Alok Sharma, whose parliamentary debates received widespread support from MPs.

Mr Sharma said: “I am absolutely delighted that the Government has listened to Tracey and Hayley and many others who think death by dangerous driving deserves tougher penalties. 

“In the most appalling cases, life will now mean life. 

“Tracey and Hayley have worked selflessly to deliver this change in the law to help others and I pay tribute to them for their bravery and perseverance. 

“It demonstrates that determined campaigning can bring about a change in the law.”

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