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Parents' campaign for government change on killer drivers

GRIEVING PARENTS: Ian and Dawn Brown-Lartey who's son was killed by a drunk driver distracted by Snapchat

MOTORISTS WHO cause death by dangerous driving could be jailed for life following a campaign by the parents of a man killed by a speeding Audi driver.

Joseph Brown-Lartey, 25, from Rochdale, died instantly after ‘Snapchat killer’ Addil Haroon, 19, crossed a busy junction at 80mph and ploughed into his Audi, splitting it in two. Haroon, of Essex Street in Rochdale, had no licence or insurance. He pleaded guilty to causing death by dangerous driving but his sentence of six years sparked widespread anger when it was revealed in court that he had earlier taken a Snapchat photo of his speedometer whilst travelling at 142mph.

Joseph’s parents, Ian and Dawn Brown-Lartey, launched the ‘Justice for Joseph’ campaign urging the government to introduce tougher sentences for road crimes. A petition signed by more than 20,000 people was handed in to Downing Street, backed by MPs and charities. Now the government has announced proposals to increase sentences.

Reacting to the announcement Joseph’s parents Ian and Dawn said:

“We are absolutely delighted that the government is finally listening to families who feel let down by the justice system.

"The pain you feel when you lose a child is indescribable, but then to be hit with a lenient sentence is like being told your child’s life doesn’t matter, it’s disrespectful.

“We just hope that as part of this consultation the Government will also look at the guidelines available to Judges so that these sentences are actually put into practice.”

Ministers said dangerous drivers causing death by speeding, street racing or while on a mobile phone are among those now facing the same sentences as people charged with manslaughter.

Offenders who cause death by careless driving whilst under the influence of drink or drugs could also be handed life sentences – an increase on the current 14 year upper limit.

Proposals include:

- Increasing the maximum sentence for causing death by dangerous driving from 14 years to life.

- Increasing the maximum sentence for causing death by careless driving whilst under the influence of drink or drugs from 14 years to life.

- Creating a new offence of causing serious injury by careless driving, with a maximum sentence of three years.

- Increasing minimum driving bans for those convicted of causing death.

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.”

Figures show that in 2015, 122 people were sentenced for causing death by dangerous driving, with a further 21 convicted of causing death by careless driving whilst under the influence.

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