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Judge calls for tougher sentencing powers after jailing drink-driver who left teenage cyclist with life-changing injuries

Cycling UK has called for increased penalties where drivers flee the scene of a collision knowing that someone may have been seriously injured

Hull’s most senior judge says he will write to the Secretary of State for Transport and the Lord Chancellor to invite reconsideration of the maximum penalties open to a court in cases where serious injury has been caused due to seriously deficient driving and several aggravating features are present.

Judge Jeremy Richardson QC was speaking after jailing businessman Owen Finn for three years for causing catastrophic and life-changing injuries to 16-year-old cyclist Kiernan Roberts in a drink-driving incident.

Finn was also banned from driving for 11-and-a-half years, and must pass an extended test before he can drive again.

The Hull Daily Mail reports that Roberts was riding home from his part-time job at around 11.15pm on October 7 last year when Finn "ploughed" into him from behind in his Mercedes on Brantingham Road, Elloughton.

Rather than stop, Finn drove to his ex-wife's, changed his clothes, and then fled to Birmingham with a broken windscreen.

The president of Hull and Humber Chamber of Commerce was returning from a chamber function near South Cave and had drunk so much alcohol that witnesses said he could barely stand up.

Roberts, who was riding with lights, was left lying in the road with a broken neck, a fractured skull, a fractured spine and other serious injuries. He was found by a passing motorist and having undergone life-saving surgery now requires round-the-clock care.

Finn admitted four offences, including causing serious injury by dangerous driving, for which the maximum sentence is five years.

Judge Richardson said: "I echo the views of the Court of Appeal in the case of Jenkins [2015] where a level of criticism was directed at the maximum sentence of five years for crimes of this kind.

"I respectfully agree with those observations, and it has to be said that a case of this kind, with so many exceptionally serious features, would have warranted a higher level of sentencing had it been open to the court.

"There is simply not enough room for manoeuvre within the bracket currently open to the court to tailor the sentence in a sufficiently punitive way in a case of exceptional seriousness. Such a facility obtains when death has occurred, but not where, as here in this case, life-shattering injuries have been caused as a result of a level of utterly deplorable dangerous driving with many aggravating features.

"In consequence, I shall send these sentencing remarks to the Secretary of State for Transport, and the Lord Chancellor. I simply, and respectfully, invite reconsideration of the maximum penalties open to the court in cases where serious injury has been caused due to seriously deficient driving, and several aggravating features are present. Ultimately, this is a matter for Parliament."

Cycling UK’s Senior Road Safety Officer, Duncan Dollimore, commented:

"This appalling incident is another clear reason why we need an urgent review of the law around road traffic offences and sentencing, first promised by the coalition government back in May 2014.

"Despite launching a consultation last December, there was still no mention of new legislation in the Queen's speech, which laid out the future legislation for this Parliament. Cycling UK wrote to the new Justice Secretary David Lidington in June urging him to progress this, and therefore very much welcome Judge Richardson's comments and indication that he intends to contact Government too.

"Cycling UK's consultation response included a specific call for increased penalties in case where drivers flee the scene of a collision knowing that someone has been or may have been seriously injured: exactly what Owen Finn did.

"Hopefully pressure from the Judiciary will remind the government that they need to listen to the voices of the thousands of victims, charities and road safety campaigners who have repeatedly called for legislative change to ensure that bad driving offences can be appropriately dealt with by the courts, and dangerous drivers removed from our roads."

Alex has written for more cricket publications than the rest of the team combined. Despite the apparent evidence of this picture, he doesn't especially like cake.

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