Dangerous drivers could face life behind bars under Boris Johnson's new plans

20 January 2020, 08:55

The law has been named after
The law has been named after Violet-Grace Youens who died after being hit by a speeding car. Picture: PA

By Kate Buck

Drivers who cause deaths on Britain's roads could be locked up for life under Boris Johnson's new plans for longer sentences.

Currently, the maximum sentence for causing death by using a mobile phone behind the wheel, speeding or racing is 14 years, but this is expected to rise to life.

The sentence for causing death by driving under the influence of drink or drugs - which will be classed as a separate offence - will also see the same rise.

The crackdown on "soft justice" has become known as Violet-Grace's law in memory of a four-year-old girl who was killed after being hit by a stolen car being driven at 83mph in a 30mph zone in 2017.

The driver, 23-year-old Aidan McAteer, was jailed for nine years and four months, but campaigners say he will serve less than half of his sentence, meaning he will have spent less time behind bars than the little girl was alive.

Aidan McAteer, 23, was driving 83pmh in a 30mph zone when he killed Violet
Aidan McAteer, 23, was driving 83pmh in a 30mph zone when he killed Violet. Picture: PA

Proposals for the new sentences were put on hold in the last Parliament and not included in the Queen's Speech.

This was despite more than 160,000 people signing a petition in support of the new law.

Justice Secretary Robert Buckland told The Telegraph the new proposals will be revealed "as soon as possible".

He added: “The commitment remains absolutely crystal clear. I very much hope we can have a vehicle to do that. I am going to be doing a sentencing Bill this year; that could be one vehicle.

“I want to get on with this as soon as possible. We will have the time and the support of the Government to change the law in the right direction.”

Also expected to be among the announcement is a new imprisonable offence of serious injury by careless driving to stop dangerous drivers avoiding a custodial sentence.

Violet-Grace Youens died after McAteer - who did not have a driving licence - ploughed into her and her grandmother Angela French, who was left seriously injured.

He had run through two red lights and past a police car before losing control.

McAteer jumped out of the car with his accomplice and ran past the dying girl, before fleeing to Amsterdam just three hours later in a bid to avoid justice.

His accomplice, Dean Brannan, who was in the passenger seat at the time of the crash and helped him escape to the Netherlands, was jailed for six years and eight months.

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