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Families' shock as drunk and speeding driver who admitted killing two cyclists appeals length of sentence

Alexander Walter got more than 10 years in jail after pleading guilty to causing deaths of John Morland and Kris Jarvis

A motorist sentenced to ten years and three months’ imprisonment earlier this year after a stolen car he was driving crashed into two cyclists in Berkshire, killing both of them, will have an appeal against his sentence heard later this month.

The families of the victims, John Morland, aged 30, and 29-year-old Kris Jarvis, have been campaigning for longer sentences in cases in which multiple people have been killed as a result of dangerous driving, and have expressed their shock at news of the appeal, reports Getreading.co.uk.

The pair, who were cycling on the pavement, lost their lives on the evening of 13 February when they were struck by a black BMW car being driving by Alexander Walter. It belonged to his partner and had been taken without her permission.

At his trial in April, Walter, aged 31 and from Purley-on-Thames pleaded guilty to causing death by dangerous driving and other offences including aggravated vehicle-taking, driving while disqualified, and driving while uninsured.

Reading Crown Court heard that he had been driving at 70mph in a 30mph zone as he was pursued by police, and that his blood alcohol level was more than twice the permitted limit.

Walter’s appeal is due to be heard on Thursday 16 October and according to Getreading.co.uk, the fiancées of both victims plan to attend the hearing.

Tracey Fidler, who was engaged to Mr Jarvis and had five children with him, said: “When we found out [last Tuesday] it just hits you and brings it all back again. It was quite a shock, when we heard he was appealing. We thought it would happen next year.

“It could go either way, but if he gets what he wants I have already asked if I can appeal.”

Besides his prison sentence, Walter, who had 67 previous convictions for a variety of offences, was banned from driving for 15 years. He had already been serving a four-year ban at the time of the fatal incident.

In July Miss Fidler, together with Mr Morland’s fiancée, Hayley Lindsay, who had two children with him, helped launch a petition calling on the government to change the law so that for example where someone is convicted of causing death by dangerous driving following an incident in which more than one person is killed, separate sentences apply for each life lost.

That would have the effect of increasing the maximum sentence for that offence in a double fatality from 14 years to 28 years, although as sentencing guidelines stand at the moment, the number of people killed is a factor that is taking into account when determining the sentence.

The petition currently has more than 22,000 signatures and last week Mayor of Reading Councillor Tony Jones met Miss Fidler and Miss Lindsay to give his backing to it.

He said: “It never ceases to amaze me when the reaction of people touched by great tragedy is to respond in a positive way. This is certainly true about Tracey and Hayley.

“There is no doubt they have made a great start with their petition and we met to discuss what else they could do achieve their goal of 100,000 signatures by the end of March next year.”

Reaching that milestone would mean that the petition would be considered for House of Commons debate by the Backbench Business Committee.

He mayor continued: “There are tough landmarks ahead, with Kris and John’s birthdays coming up, then having to navigate their first Christmas without them, but all through our discussion the only thoughts were to turn what the judge described as the ‘thoughtless, selfish and dangerous actions’ of one man into a lasting and positive legacy for Kris and John.

“I will do whatever I can as mayor to help them in this cause – please get your families and friends to sign the petition.”

Simon joined road.cc as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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