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Sentencing for death by dangerous driving

Volume 620: debated on Thursday 2 February 2017

The petition of residents of the UK,

Declares that the death of James Gilbey in a hit and run on a pelican crossing is appalling; further that the driver who killed James was racing another car at speeds in excess of 90mph in a 40mph residential zone; further that the impact (adjudged to be 80mph) was such that James landed 70m down the road and was killed instantly from receiving multiple injuries; further that it is often the manner in which an object is used that makes it a weapon; further that the driver, leaving James on the road, fled the scene, disposed of the vehicle and burnt his clothes; further that we believe that choosing to drive and behave in this way is a calculated act, that should bring charges of manslaughter and not causing death by dangerous driving; and further that there is an e-petition on this subject, titled “Death caused by racing should bring a charge of manslaughter not dangerous driving” at https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/164488.

The petitioners therefore urge the House of Commons to change the law so that death caused by racing should bring a charge of manslaughter and not causing death by dangerous driving.

And the petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by Claire Perry, Official Report, 25 January 2017; Vol. 620, c. 408.]

[P002003]

Observations from the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice (Mr Sam Gyimah):

In December the Government issued a consultation on driving offences and penalties relating to causing death and serious injury. It proposed that the maximum penalty for the most serious offences should be life imprisonment.

Driving offences can have devastating consequences for victims and their loved ones. Sentencing in individual cases is always a matter for the courts, which are independent from Government.

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) can and will charge a person with murder or manslaughter where the evidence supports that charge, where it is in the public interest to do so and there is a reasonable prospect of a conviction.

The consultation proposed that those most serious driving offences of causing death by dangerous driving and causing death by careless driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs should have a maximum penalty of life imprisonment, the same maximum penalty open to the courts as manslaughter. The consultation closed on 1 February and the Government will consider the responses received and publish their response within 3 months.