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Correspondence

Volume 86: debated on Wednesday 13 November 1985

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39.

asked the Solicitor-General for Scotland when the hon. Member for Fife. Central can expect a reply to his recent letter concerning the death of one of his constituents as a result of a car accident involving a drunken driver.

Does the hon. and learned Gentleman agree that the driver, Mr. Sharp of Glasgow, pleaded guilty to two serious charges—careless driving under the influence of drink and causing death by such driving? Does he further agree that Mr. Sharp had a previous conviction for drunken driving and that he had more than three times the limit of alcohol in his blood, and yet Sheriff MacArthur, in the Kirkcaldy court, sentenced him to 240 hours of community service and suspended his licence for five years? Is that not a travesty of justice? Does he agree that the sentence might have been different if someone generally considered more important than my 69-year-old constituent had been killed? Her husband has been damaged for life and his nose was very nearly torn off. Is that not a disgrace and a tragedy for Scottish justice? What can be done?

As far as I can ascertain, the hon. Gentleman's factual narrative is correct in every detail. Whatever view he may have of the sentence imposed by the court—it is clear that there are reservations about it on both sides of the House—he will appreciate that, in Scotland, the Crown, as prosecutor has traditionally stood apart from sentencing policy. I should have thought that the hon. Gentleman would want us to maintain that distinction in our legal system. When an attempt was made this side of the border to allow the Crown to take an appeal against too lenient a sentence, I understand that the hon. Gentleman's party felt that it was a thoroughly undesirable development.

In view of the great importance of this matter, I give notice that I shall raise this matter on the Adjournment at the earliest possible opportunity.