Son of crash victim welcomes tougher law

THE son of a woman who died when another motorist smashed into her car at 70mph last night welcomed a move to impose tougher sentences on drivers who kill.

Annie Davidson

THE son of a woman who died when another motorist smashed into her car at 70mph last night welcomed a move to impose tougher sentences on drivers who kill.

New advice from the Sentencing Guidelines Council has been unveiled which urges judges to come down harder on drivers who cause a death when texting or making a phone call or who are under the influence of drink or drugs.

The news was welcomed by Paul Tillett whose mother Jennifer Tillett died when she was hit by a drink driver in Thorpe-le-Soken's High Street.

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Mrs Tillett tried to steer out of the path of Graham Turk's car as he rounded a bend and crossed onto her side of the road when he lost control of his vehicle after a night at the pub.

His Rover, which a police reconstruction found was travelling at 71mph in a 30mph speed limit, collided with the driver's side of Mrs Tillett's car and forced it through a hedge and into a fence.

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Mrs Tillett, who lived in Holmbrook Way, Frinton-on-Sea, died hours after the crash in hospital because of multiple injuries.

Then aged 57, Turk had 112mgs of alcohol in 100mls of blood in a sample taken three hours after the accident on November 3, 2004. The legal limit is 80mg.

He was jailed for four years and three months after admitting causing death by dangerous driving and driving while over the legal limit.

Under the new guidelines drivers who kill when drink, drugs or persistent bad driving are involved will be liable for jail terms of up to a maximum of 14 years and those texting could be jailed for up to seven.

Last night Mr Tillett said: “A punishment should be a due punishment, it was an idiotic thing to do - he wasn't driving at 45mph and accidentally clipped my mum, he was driving on her side of the road at 70mph and went straight into her.

“You might feel if you lost your mother to an idiot who was drink driving you would want them to serve 15 years and really suffer but that is wishful thinking in the real world.

“The punishment should fit the crime and also act as a deterrent. If you knew that if you killed someone when over the limit you were going to get a mandatory 15 year sentence, or even ten years minimum, you would think before you got in the car and did it.

“It is like in New York when they did three strikes and you're out, whatever the crime, well funnily enough crime did stop. It did work.”

Mr Tillett, of Stock, near Chelmsford, added that his mother's death at just 61 had “destroyed” the family and it had only been during the last six months that he had begun to properly recover.

“For a long time I didn't even think she had died - it doesn't dawn on you because it is so sudden,” he said. “It is a loss you never get over - it will never leave me - I think the last six months have been the best I have had but it destroyed the family for a good two-and-a-half years after it happened.”

A Ministry of Justice spokesman said: “Ensuring drivers who cause death on our roads through bad driving are suitably punished is essential if justice is to be done and people maintain their support for the criminal justice system.

“That's why the Government welcomes the firm guidelines published by the independent Sentencing Guidelines Council.”

The Sentencing Guidelines Council said the advice meant that judges and magistrates were given a “clear message” that driving offences that result in death are serious offences and should receive appropriate sentences.

It said lengthy custodial sentences were recommended for cases involving “prolonged, persistent and deliberate” bad driving or where drivers were drunk or under the influence of drugs.

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