Politicians must legislate for longer jail terms for killer drivers

News Letter editorial
News Letter editorial
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In 2014, Northern Ireland was horrified by the fate of Enda Dolan, a student killed by a driver high on drink and drugs.

Enda was carried on the front of the van that hit him hundreds of metres down the Malone Road in south Belfast before falling off.

It is hard to think of a case in which a driver is more culpable in the extinguishing of someone’s life than that case.

The guilty man’s initial jail term of three-and-a-half years was later increased by the Court of Appeal to four-and-a-half years — still woefully inadequate.

Enda’s father, Peter, has become a campaigner against death by dangerous driving.

This week, Northern Ireland heard the heart-breaking words of Katie Weir, 20, say that she wishes she had died instead of her parents, killed by a young man driving at 90mph on a country road in Co Down. That killer driver has been given a paltry 14 months behind bars.

The courts have been getting tougher on a range of offences including sexual crime, aware of the devastating impact such abuse has on victims.

But what could be worse than losing your life?

If a motorist drives in a way that is plainly dangerous and as a result someone dies, the penalty must be a much longer spell in prison than is currently handed down.

Politicians need first to mandate longer sentences and judges need then to impose them.