Sussex

Crash friends call for lifetime driving ban for killer drivers

Maria Smith with her daughters Image copyright Smith family
Image caption Mother-of-three Maria Smith died in the crash with her partner Richard Lewis-Clements

Friends and family of a couple killed by a hit-and-run driver are calling for lifetime bans for motorists who cause death by dangerous driving.

Jodan Hunt, 24, had consumed 16 times the drug-driving limit when he killed Maria Smith, 48, and her partner Richard Lewis-Clements, 46.

He was jailed for six years after admitting death by dangerous driving in the crash in Eastbourne on 12 August.

The Ministry of Justice (MOJ) said it was considering the penalties.

Father-of-two Hunt, of Hobart Quay, Eastbourne, was speeding when his Seat Leon crashed into the couple's VW Polo.

He ran off after the crash, but was traced a mile away at the Cavendish Hotel.

In addition to the jail term, he was also banned from driving for eight years and will have to take an extended re-test before he is allowed to drive again.

Image copyright Sussex Police
Image caption Jodan Hunt fled the scene of the crash and was found in a hotel several hours later

Friends and relatives of mother-of-three Ms Smith, from Eastbourne and Mr Lewis-Clements, from Buxted, East Sussex, fear with good behaviour Hunt could be out in four years.

Ms Smith's cousin Siobhan Bowman has launched a petition, saying: "This is not good enough.

"We want an end to drivers being given free reign to drive like maniacs without consequences."

As well as the lifetime ban, the petition calls on Justice Secretary Liz Truss to review sentencing guidelines.

They want to ensure that judges have the power to impose the maximum sentence of 14 years for causing death by dangerous driving and for sentences to match those for manslaughter.

They are also calling for stronger penalties for other driving offences such as careless driving, dangerous driving, speeding, drink driving, and driving under the influence of drugs.

The Ministry of Justice said it was considering the penalties for driving offences to find the best way forward.

"Sentencing is a matter for our independent judges, who make their decisions based on the facts of individual cases," it said in a statement.

Image copyright Dan Jessop
Image caption Richard Lewis-Clements's car was among four vehicles involved in the crash in Eastbourne

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