The Leader of Coventry City Council has been assured the government will bring in new laws to get tough on those who kill through dangerous driving – but ministers have failed to say when.
Council Leader George Duggins and Opposition Leader Cllr Gary Ridley sent a letter on behalf of the Council to Prime Minister Theresa May, calling for tougher sentencing following the tragic deaths of six-year-old Corey Platt-May and his two-year-old brother Casper in February this year. The letter followed a Council debate in July.
The driver who killed the two boys was jailed for nine years after admitting two counts of causing death by dangerous driving, as well as driving while disqualified and having no insurance and/or a valid licence. He was also high on cocaine at the time of the crash in Longfellow Road, Stoke.
The sentence was later increased to ten and a half years by the Court of Appeal. The maximum penalty is 14 years.
Campaigners were told in October last year that the Government intended to toughen sentences for such offences, but nearly a year later no changes have been introduced.
In their letter to the Prime Minister, Cllr Duggins and Cllr Ridley said: “Ministers need to make Parliamentary time available as a matter of the utmost priority.
“As we wait, more and more families are being forced to suffer not only a lifetime of grief at the unnecessary loss of their loved ones, but the double injustice of seeing their killers receive prison sentences of just a few years.
“We call upon the Government to introduce legislation immediately.”
Replying on behalf of the Government, Rory Stewart, Minister of State for Justice, said the Government plans to increase the penalty to life in prison for those who cause death by careless driving when under the influence of drink or drugs, and those who cause death by dangerous driving.
His letter added: “We welcome the support that you have expressed for these changes and I can only stress that we are seeking to introduce our proposals for reform of the law as soon as Parliamentary time allows.”
Cllr Duggins said that while the Council was pleased to receive a reply and to be assured action would be taken, he was disappointed that no time had been set for the changes.
He said: “We know the Government has said that these new tougher sentences will be brought in, but we need action now.
“A life sentence will be a deterrent to some of those who commit these offences, and it would also serve as a better reflection of the severity of the crime and the devastating effect it has on families.
“We need changes to be made now and we will continue to make that call until the Government takes action.”
The Council has joined forces with Free Radio to set up a petition demanding a change in the law.
You can sign the petition online and follow it on Twitter at #driveitthru