Driver in car chase that left 13-year-old cyclist dead has sentence more than doubled after victim's mother appeals

Court of Appeal agrees that original sentence of 18 months' imprisonment was "unduly lenient"

by Simon_MacMichael   October 29, 2012  

Gavel

The mother of a teenage girl killed while cycling by a car involved in a chase at more than twice the speed limit has won an appeal against what judges agreed was an “unduly lenient” sentence handed down to one of the drivers involved.

In July, Leanne Burnell, aged 21, was sentenced to 18 months’ imprisonment in connection with the death of 13-year-old Amy Hofmeister in June 2011. That sentence has now been more than doubled to three and a half years, reports the London Evening Standard.

In England and Wales, anyone can appeal sentences they believe are too low in certain types of serious criminal case within 28 days of sentencing to the Attorney General, who then decides whether to request the Court of Appeal to review the case.

The court can either decline to review the case, agree with the sentence imposed at first instance, or as in this case consider that it is unduly lenient and impose an increased sentence.

Burnell had been involved in a car chase through the centre of Taunton with then boyfriend Leonard Jones after the pair had left a pub, driving their respective cars at speeds of up to 80mph in a 30mph zone in what was described as a game of “cat and mouse.”

Jones was imprisoned for seven years at Taunton Crown Court in July after admitting causing Amy’s death by dangerous driving, but Burnell, who had pleaded guilty, received an 18-month jail term upon her conviction.

Amy’s mother, Jane Hofmeister, who set up a road safety charity called Think Amy following her daughter’s death, said that the increased sentence handed down to Burnell last week had enabled her to fulfil a vow she had made to her daughter.

"From the moment Amy was killed and I held her in my arms - she was already gone - but I promised her: 'Mummy will get justice and sort this’,” she said.

"I was so bitterly disappointed in July, I wanted the maximum sentence the law could provide.

"On a personal level I wanted life. Life for a life. But realistically I knew I couldn't get that with what she was charged with.

"I wanted a sentence that matched the category with which she was charged, and now, finally, I feel that I have got that, and justice for my daughter."

She maintained that Burnell had shown “no remorse” following the incident, and that she had battled to have the sentence increased in part to "teach her a lesson," adding, “hopefully this will also send a message out to people about the effects of drink-driving, and the terrible consequences of getting behind the wheel after a drink."

Sir John Thomas, sitting alongside Lord Justice Kitchin and Mrs Justice Cox at the Court of Appeal, said that the incident was a "terrible tragedy" that had led to a “devastating impact" on the family of the victim.

"There can be little doubt that the underlying cause of what happened was her [Burnell's] decision to begin the chase," he stated.

The increased sentence was announced just days after a House of Commons adjournment debate was held on the subject of sentencing and its impact on victims and their families.

Immediately following that debate, justice minister Helen Grant agreed to meet with a delegation led by British Cycling which is leading a campaign calling for a review of sentencing in cases where the victim is a cyclist.

18 user comments

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I'm in disbelief!

Racing each other? 80 mph in a 30 mph zone? Had just left the pub! And of course - killed a little girl.

I think the seven years given to the boyfriend is insanely lenient. 18 months is beyond words...I mean literally beyond comment.

WTF? Doubling the sentence still makes it laughable. Why oh why does anyone bother with the law courts? Just get in your car and floor it in the direction of the scumbags who killed the little girl.

We all know that, kill or cripple them, it shouldn't inconvenience your life for more than a few months.

posted by Lacticlegs [124 posts]
29th October 2012 - 15:10

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It's revolting that a mother has to go through this to have this perpetrators sentence increased to a paltry 3 years.

Sudor

posted by Sudor [179 posts]
29th October 2012 - 15:11

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I think any parent would be disgusted by the leniency of the sentencing and feel sympathy for the mother of the victim.

OldRidgeback

posted by OldRidgeback [2187 posts]
29th October 2012 - 15:22

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just absolutely ridiculous. 18 months? 3 1/2 years, and of course she'll be released early. Both stupidly lenient imo. This idiot took the life of a daughter and almosts gets away with it, just fu@king senseless .....

posted by Karbon Kev [670 posts]
29th October 2012 - 15:24

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So the vale of a human life is 3.5 years!

Angelfishsolo's picture

posted by Angelfishsolo [106 posts]
29th October 2012 - 15:54

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Yep. Judges are useless, out of touch wankers. Police are useless, prosecutors are lazy and stupid.

Welcome to the 2st century.

NOBODY GIVES A FUCK

posted by Animal [33 posts]
29th October 2012 - 15:57

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Angelfishsolo wrote:
So the vale of a human life is 3.5 years!

Yes. Clearly nearly as serious as posting "let's have a riot" on the internet.

Oops ...

posted by SteppenHerring [179 posts]
29th October 2012 - 16:23

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So if they were both guilty of driving like cocks at 80mph how is it that the scumbag boyfriend gets a longer sentence than the aforementioned other piece of sh1t? Both removed from the genepool would be a better outcome.

cidermart's picture

posted by cidermart [460 posts]
29th October 2012 - 16:52

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I"m with the mother they should get life

Get out and ride

posted by davidtcycle [62 posts]
29th October 2012 - 18:49

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Should lock the judge up to.

posted by Some Fella [746 posts]
29th October 2012 - 21:45

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Curious that our hang-em-flog-em government don't seem moved by dangerous driving offences; the sentences for causing death by dangerous driving do seem strangely lenient (particularly in their interpretation by judges, who tend toward the more lenient end the of the range of permitted punishments).

What is unforgivable is the absence of life bans on driving for these offenders. While talk of cars being 'lethal weapons' is misguided (they aren't weapons any more than, say, an umbrella is), certainly they are highly dangerous machines that should be properly controlled. The fact that this person could be back on the road within three years worries me more than the length of their incarceration.

Ghedebrav's picture

posted by Ghedebrav [1091 posts]
30th October 2012 - 17:11

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Ghedebrav - I disagree Ghedebrav regards the lethal weapons point. You'd have to be trying pretty hard to kill someone with an umbrella, where as lack of attention can result in death when a vehicle is involved. They are lethal weapons and the law should reflect the very real potential danger involved in operating motorised vehicles.

posted by adscrim [108 posts]
30th October 2012 - 18:09

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when I encounter dangerous driving if possible i make like I want to remonstrate with the driver and when the prick pulls over I simply make like I am about to punch him and whilst he is focused on my fist i am removing the ignition key. By the time he has noticed I have his key I am down the road with it looking for a drain or a ditch to throw it in unless of course they accept my generous offer of a reasonable 'fine' to have it awarded back to them. It is suprising how often these people pull over and even more suprising how many drivers give me a lot of room on the road Cool if any driver wishes to use his vehichle as a weapon I wish to dissarm the fucker

tired old fart

posted by tired old fart [82 posts]
31st October 2012 - 11:49

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A bloke was killed with an umbrella in the 70's on a bridge in London by the KGB. I refer to my earlier statement about the pair of scumbags driving.

cidermart's picture

posted by cidermart [460 posts]
31st October 2012 - 14:00

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The pedestrian killed on the bridge in London was hit by a pellet of Ricin (I hope the spelling is correct!) probably fired from a specially adapted umbrella, Not a normal umbrella.

John1987

posted by John N Harrison [8 posts]
1st November 2012 - 15:38

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John N Harrison wrote:
The pedestrian killed on the bridge in London was hit by a pellet of Ricin (I hope the spelling is correct!) probably fired from a specially adapted umbrella, Not a normal umbrella.

His name was Georgi Markov

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Georgi_Markov

zanf's picture

posted by zanf [480 posts]
1st November 2012 - 16:25

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Both right Nerd

cidermart's picture

posted by cidermart [460 posts]
1st November 2012 - 17:08

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SteppenHerring wrote:
Angelfishsolo wrote:
So the vale of a human life is 3.5 years!

Yes. Clearly nearly as serious as posting "let's have a riot" on the internet.

Oops ...

It's a shame that your quote is funny in a macabre way but it is. At the same time going off other sentences for cyclist killing these sentences are quite long, still not long enough though.

tired old fart

posted by tired old fart [82 posts]
18th July 2013 - 18:35

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