BETTER support promised to families impacted by crime - following a campaign spearheaded by a Barnsley MP and a man whose sister was killed by four career criminals joyriding in a stolen HGV - does ‘not go far enough’.
The government finally introduced their long-awaited Victims’ Bill, eight years after they had initially mooted it in Parliament.
Barnsley East MP Stephanie Peacock argued that more action was needed to put victims at the heart of the justice system, and referred to her campaigning alongside constituent Johnny Wood following the death of his sister, Jackie Wileman, who was killed by four men driving a stolen lorry through Brierley on September 14, 2018.
David Mellor, Wayne Carroll, Alan Mawhinney and unlicensed driver Karn Hill - who clocked up more than 100 offences between them before the fatal joyride - received between ten-and-a-half and 13 years in prison.
The bill aims to set out changes to the justice system from the perspective of victims, but the MP believes it does not go far enough.
She said: “Although it is good news that the government has finally brought forward its long-awaited Victims’ Bill, it unfortunately does not do enough to put victims at the heart of the justice system.
“I have been proud to campaign with Johnny Wood for stronger sentences for death by dangerous driving, after his sister Jackie Wileman was tragically killed by four men driving a stolen HGV lorry with 100 convictions between them.
“However, more must be done to ensure that victims of crimes and their families receive the justice they deserve.
“It is not acceptable that victims of crimes are not given the support they need, and those facing the plight of antisocial behaviour in their community must be given the recognition they desperately need.”
In the days prior to Jackie’s death, Mellor took the lorry from his then-employer, Barnsley-based City Freight Services, and held the vehicle to ransom claiming he was owed two-and-a-half weeks’ wages.
Having had its registration reported by the firm, a police officer travelling on Common Road 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 - who was on her daily walk - and damaged a house which had to be rebuilt.
A passing cyclist also narrowly escaped death - with CCTV showing the vehicle just missed him as it ploughed into the house - while three of the four men attempted to flee.
A vodka bottle and drug paraphernalia were found in the cabin by investigating officers, Hill failed a roadside breath test and it was revealed to the jury in the case that Carroll had spent time behind bars for a previous conviction for causing death by dangerous driving following a hit-and-run in Havercroft in 2014.
Steph added: “One of those prosecuted was already in the probation system.
“The culprits responsible for this terrible tragedy should not have been on the streets - Johnny rightly feels that had the probation service been able to stop these criminals, Jackie may still be here today.
“This points to a variety of other issues, such as police cuts depleting South Yorkshire Police’s capacity to stop the perpetrators from joyriding before it was too late, and flaws in the probation system meaning that these individuals were able to get away with repetitively committing crimes whilst already in the system.
“I hope that these changes feel like progress to families who have suffered at the hands of this crime I know Johnny’s commitment to implementing better victim support will make such a difference to families experiencing loss as a result of dangerous driving.
“Jackie’s death shook the Barnsley to its core, but the way the community came together to help the family was sensitive and heartfelt.
“Her brother’s activism has honoured her memory by making sure that criminals pay, and victims can access the support they need when they need it.”