BETTER support for families who have lost losing loved ones as a result of dangerous driving must be introduced - after an MP spoke out ahead of the potential release of an unlicensed driver who killed a Barnsley woman.
Jackie Wileman, aged 58, was killed when walking on Common Road, Brierley, on September 14, 2018, having been struck by a stolen HGV occupied by four ‘career criminals’.
David Mellor, Wayne Carroll, Alan Mawhinney and driver Karn Hill were convicted of causing death by dangerous driving in 2019 and received between ten-and-a-half and 13 years in prison, despite Judge Jeremy Richardson QC telling the criminals - who had clocked up almost 100 convictions between them - he would have increased the sentence if the law allowed.
The government passed a revised sentencing bill in Parliament last March following a long campaign by Jackie’s brother, Johnny Wood, and his family which received support for the maximum sentence for death by dangerous driving to be increased from 14 years to life imprisonment.
Stephanie Peacock, MP for Barnsley East, backed the bid and - during a House of Commons debate last week - called for better support to be provided to victims’ families.
She said: “I pay tribute to Jackie’s brother, Johnny Wood, for his campaign to increase sentences for causing death by dangerous driving.
“I welcome the proposed change in the law, but Johnny has now been informed that one of the offenders may shortly be released from prison on licence.
“Since then, every part of the system, every step of the way, has let Jackie’s family down as victims.”
She asked for the Secretary of State Dominic Raab to meet with her and Johnny to discuss what more can be done to support victims, with Mr Raab agreeing to address the specifics of the matter carefully.
At the time of the incident, a police officer travelling on Common Road - PC Paul Skeoch - came across the vehicle and turned around to follow it but Hill, who was 23 at the time, sped up and drove at ‘top speed’ before failing to negotiate the bend.
The HGV hit three cars, Jackie and damaged a house which had to be rebuilt.
All four were guilty of causing death by dangerous driving, although Hill’s pre-trial guilty plea meant he automatically received a 25 per cent sentence reduction, and the men will be eligible for parole upon completing half of their sentences.
Johnny told the Chronicle: “Having a local MP like Stephanie has helped so much as her team have been brilliant throughout.
“We’ve been failed as a family as the lowlife group responsible for Jackie’s death should not have been on the streets.
“Even the judge said he wanted to impose longer sentences but he wasn’t allowed to do so, which says everything.
“Jackie was a shining light in the Grimethorpe community and was loved by everybody who knew her, but her death could have been prevented if the government acted quicker, if police numbers hadn’t been cut and the Probation Service had done a better job with known offenders.”