Petition calling for lawmakers to increase sentencing for banned drivers collects 150 signatures per hour

Bereaved families of cyclists mown down by 67-times convicted driver call result of petition 'overwhelming' as they mark six months since the double collision

by Sarah Barth   August 24, 2014  

Gavel

A petition launched by two women whose partners were killed by one drunk driver in Purley on Thames this year has reached almost 17,000 signatures, a result the families have called ‘overwhelming’.

Seven children were left fatherless when John Morland and Kris Jarvis died after being hit by a BMW driven by Alexander Walters.

The e-Petition, calling for law-makers to increase the sentencing in dangerous driving cases, is now clocking up 150 signatures every hour.

Hayley Lindsay said: “We are doing it for Kris and John, but it is also for people in the future. I think John and Kris would be overwhelmed by the response we are getting.”

Mother-of-two Hayley told the Reading Chronicle: “We are doing it for Kris and John, but it is also for people in the future. I think John and Kris would be overwhelmed by the response we are getting.”

The families recently met at a memorial event to mark six months since the fatal collision. Around 50 friends and family returned to Purley Rise to lay flowers and release balloons for Kris and John.

Tracey Fidler said: “The whole day was very emotional. We knew it was going to be hard. But it was more emotional than I expected.

“I spent the whole day crying.” Hayley added: “Every day is hard but significant days like birthdays and that day are harder. But we were standing there, looking at where they landed, and everything rewound back in your head.”

Walters, who had over twice the blood alcohol limit and had used cocaine within the last 24 hours when he hit and killed the cyclists, was sentenced to 10 years and three months for dangerous driving and aggravated vehicle taking, after pleading guilty to a total of seven offences at Reading Crown Court on April 16.

The court heard he had 67 previous convictions.

“They classed John and Kris as one person – he (Walters) got ten years three months for (both) the deaths of Kris and John,” Tracey Fidler told Newbury Today.

“We want the sentence to be applicable to both men – which would double the sentence to 20 years and six months,” she said.

“The guy that did it only got a little sentence – and we got a life sentence.”

The petition has over 18,000 signatures. To sign, click here.

 

The petition is worded:

On Thursday 13th February 2014, friends Kris Jarvis and John Morland had been out cycling and where returning home via Purley and were struck by a speeding car, both men were killed.

Kris and his fiancée, Tracey, have 5 children and John and his fiancée, Hayley, have 2 children.

The driver of the car pleaded guilty to two counts of causing death by dangerous driving, driving while uninsured and disqualified and aggravated vehicle taking, the driver of the speeding car received 10 years and three months sentence.

Alexander Walter was 2 ½ times over the legal drink limit and had taken drugs 24 hours before and had 67 previous convictions.

Dangerous driving can have devastating consequences. Tracey and Hayley would like to see the Government change the law, so if a driver receives a sentence for causing death by dangerous driving, the driver receives the maximum sentence, of 14 years, per person that has been killed.

 

In April we reported Walter’s sentencing. Judge John Reddihough told Walter that "two completely innocent young men and with families" were killed as a result of his "thoughtless, selfish and dangerous actions".

He said the evidence against Walter was "overwhelming" adding: "Seven children are left without a father and two women have been left without partners. Of course there is also the effect on the other members of their family."

The court heard that Walter had appeared in court 14 times over 67 offences including obtaining property by deception, dishonesty, false representation, and making a bomb hoax. In 2010 he was handed a four-year ban and should not have been driving again until December this year.

The victims worked for Reading Borough Council and were keen riders. Kris Jarvis had five children and was planning to wed fiancée Tracey Fidler next year. John Morland had two children and had set a date for his marriage to fiancée Hayley Lindsay in May 2016.

Prosecutor Alan Blake noted said the grieving relatives had made "devastating" victim statements.

He said: "It includes Amanda Morland (Mr Morland's sister) saying that part of her died with John on that day and they (the family) will never be the same again.

"There were similar expressions by the partner of Kris Jarvis (Tracey Fidler) who describes how difficult it is dealing with the loneliness she suffers, having never previously spent the night apart."

James House, defending, said Walter had written a letter to bereaved families.
Mr House said Walter "offers his heartfelt apologies" knowing that it would never make up for what he had done but he had admitted his guilt.

Walter was also banned for driving for 15 years and will have to pass an extended test.

14 user comments

Oldest firstNewest firstBest rated

Signed.

His fifteen year driving ban is about a hundred years too short.

JaseCD

posted by jasecd [147 posts]
24th August 2014 - 10:20

52 Likes

Signed (and shared) the first time round, but worth promoting again. Around 17,000 signatures now, or 10,000 in past 2 weeks.

posted by Argos74 [297 posts]
24th August 2014 - 10:57

52 Likes

So wrong on so many levels (the circumstances and sentence, that is, not the petition).

Signed.

posted by truffy [365 posts]
24th August 2014 - 11:00

42 Likes

Signed, and emailed many cycling contacts to sign

Sad situation, condolences to the families, government needs to wake up the driving menace on the roads!

posted by hampstead_bandit [169 posts]
24th August 2014 - 16:58

44 Likes

Deepest sympathy to those involved. Tragic.

67 previous offences, over twice the legal limit and used drugs 24hrs earlier. Why is this 'person' still permitted to breathe oxygen?

posted by Paulofthewest [1 posts]
24th August 2014 - 18:41

41 Likes

Signed. The most fitting punishment for Alexander Walters should have been a bullet in the head but sadly this will never happen.

Airzound

posted by Airzound [373 posts]
24th August 2014 - 19:20

28 Likes

Driving while banned should equal a life ban. Driving is not a right.

posted by ratherbeintobago [32 posts]
24th August 2014 - 19:44

30 Likes

Out in a couple of years under current ruling. It sickened when I first heard of the terrible news, it sickens me now.

And What is the point of a 15 drivers ban, he was driving without a license at the time of his selfish actions, he clearly does not care.

A bolt gun would be more apt, this man is utter scum but the legal system is a sham and makes a mockery of us all. I hope this campaign means we see a change.

Hayley, you are brave and are rightly challenging a stupid law, I expect your supporters will increase dramatically.

'It's the closest you can get to flying'
Robin Williams response when asked why he enjoyed riding so much

posted by Simmo72 [347 posts]
24th August 2014 - 23:28

30 Likes

Unfortunately I cannot support this as worded as it will not allow a Judge to look at any mitigating circumstances. 14 year sentence no matter what!

Let's suppose a Doctor is found to have driven dangerously and killed some people while rushing to the scene of an accident, where he knew his intervention would save lives. Clearly he's has made a grave error of judgement by driving dangerously; but he has done it with the best of intent. Would you lock him up for 14 years? I wouldn't.

We need to focus on getting the Police to investigate properly; the CPO to instigate correct charges and judges to apply current sentencing options to full effect and if they are not appropriate lobby to provide more options.

Rather than focus on draconian laws (which only ever affect the poor and less privileged in our society) we need to focus on changing behaviour; prison rarely changes behaviour and is therefore purely a tool for punishment or revenge.

posted by Legin [40 posts]
25th August 2014 - 9:23

32 Likes

It's difficult to comment on something like this. I just do not understand. How can someone so skilled at breaking the law not be deemed a threat to society?
Don't judges feel a sense of shame when someone they let off lightly goes on to murder someone?

A case of an Islamic preacher who was jailed for 10 years for inciting people to commit acts of terror. He didn't kill anyone himself, neither was it proven that anyone was inspired by him to kill, but potentially it could have happened.

But someone so skilled at breaking the law, band from driving, was drunk driving and had aggravatingly taken a vehicle, kills two people - only gets 10 years and isn't banned for life. Wow. I wonder what odds I'd get from the bookies that he would commit crime again.

It must take a special forgiving kinda person to be a judge. And the law, somehow seems broken if it is not able to protect the public from such menaces.

posted by ronin [151 posts]
25th August 2014 - 13:08

21 Likes

Sit in a cinema and film Fast and Furious 6 on your camcorder or Go Pro will get you 2 years and 9 months in prison. Knock a cyclist down and kill them you might get prosecuted and if in the unlikely event you are and then found guilty the punishment will be feeble, quite derisory really, a slap on the wrists, you might even get away with just a fine, or get off totally with a SMIDSY defence.

A film that glorifies dangerous driving is worth a more severe sentence for some one who illegally records it than some one who is a dangerous driver and kills a vulnerable road user such as a cyclist. Perverse. The justice system is totally fucked up.

Airzound

posted by Airzound [373 posts]
25th August 2014 - 22:00

17 Likes

Legin wrote:
prison rarely changes behaviour and is therefore purely a tool for punishment or revenge.

Not so. It's the only way to stop people like this from doing what they do to innocent members of the public.

DaveE128's picture

posted by DaveE128 [69 posts]
26th August 2014 - 11:30

6 Likes

The facts of this case are very similar to the deaths of Ross and Claire Simons in Bristol last year. The driver was uninsured, driving while banned, and had a history of substance abuse. He got 10 years. The victims' family started a petition calling for a tougher sentence, and it was championed by our local MP, which prompted David Cameron to announce a sentencing review this autumn.

On the one hand this is good. There needs to be a really clear message sent out that driving while banned is a serious offence, and that it will Mess Your Life Up if you're caught doing it.

On the other hand, this has done nothing to change physical conditions for cycling where the accident happened (which are and were abysmal - joke cycle lanes with cars parked in them, the local school trying to make helmets compulsory after one of their pupils was knocked off).

It's not going to increase detection rates for driving offences, and given that the driver who killed Mr & Mrs Simons was fleeing from the police at the time the accident happened, I'm not convinced it's a deterrent. In the words of Bez of these parts, it's "legislating for headlines", not real change.

posted by Mr Agreeable [143 posts]
26th August 2014 - 11:59

2 Likes

DaveE128 wrote:

Legin wrote:

prison rarely changes behaviour and is therefore purely a tool for punishment or revenge.

Not so. It's the only way to stop people like this from doing what they do to innocent members of the public.

The only legal way. Whether or not it's effective is at least debatable.

Work harder. Buy a tank.

userfriendly's picture

posted by userfriendly [288 posts]
26th August 2014 - 12:56

6 Likes