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Jail warning for drive ban killers


By Daniel Machin

Tougher sentences are to be handed down to disqualified drivers who kill while behind the wheel.

Law reforms announced by Justice Secretary Chris Grayling will see offenders that cause death given up to 10 years in prison, while those that inflict serious injury will receive up to four years behind bars.

The maximum sentence faced by a driver who causes death while driving when disqualified is currently two years in jail.

MPs have pushed for a change in the law to deal with banned drivers following a number of incidents across the country.

Mr Grayling believes the reforms, which are due to come into force in 2015, will send a clear message to drivers who flout bans and act as a deterrent to those considering getting behind the wheel.

"I want to make our roads safer and ensure people who cause harm face tough penalties," he said.

"Disqualified drivers should not be on our roads for good reason.

"Those who chose to defy a ban imposed by a court and go on to destroy innocent lives must face serious consequences for the terrible impact of their actions.

"We are sending a clear message that anyone who does will face much tougher punishment."

Official figures show there were 16 prosecutions and 13 convictions for causing death by driving when disqualified, unlicensed or uninsured in 2012.

Last year, husband and wife Ross and Clare Simons were killed on a tandem bicycle when they were hit by drug addict Nicky Lovell, 38, driving a Citroen Picasso near Bristol.

Lovell, who had 11 previous convictions for driving while disqualified, was being pursued by police at the time of the accident.

He pleaded guilty to two counts of causing death by dangerous driving and one of driving while disqualified and was jailed for 10 years and six months.

Road safety charities have welcomed the tougher punishments for banned drivers.

"We have long campaigned for a shake-up of charges and penalties for risky and irresponsible drivers who kill and injure on our roads," commented Julie Townsend, deputy chief executive of Brake.

"Brake supports families who have been deeply and permanently affected by selfish and risky behaviour at the wheel and we frequently hear from these families that they feel terribly let down by our justice system."

Plans for a full review of all driving offences and penalties, which includes offences committed by uninsured and unlicensed drivers, are also in the pipeline.

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