Court’s ‘act of mercy’ angers two victims

Lil Read (left) and Carol Hughes with the Olympic torch at Dartington Crystal, Devon last summer.

Lil Read (left) and Carol Hughes with the Olympic torch at Dartington Crystal, Devon last summer. - Credit: Archant

TWO women who were hit by a Land Rover, in an accident which left one with brain damage, say they are disgusted the driver has had his six-month driving ban reduced.

A Bristol Crown Court appeals bench this week amended the sentence as an ‘act of mercy,’ after hearing driver Stuart Jack’s business may fail without his licence.

The decision has been met with anger by the women, Carol Hughes and Lil Read, with Carol saying said Jack had ‘ruined’ their lives.

Lil, aged 70, and 51-year-old Carol were hit as they crossed Lawrence Road in Worle last November, leaving Lil with a head injury which saw her lose two-and-a-half years of her memory. She now relies on full-time care.

Jack, aged 67, of High Street, Banwell, was fined £625 and handed the driving ban at North Somerset Courthouse when he pleaded guilty to dangerous driving in July.

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But last Friday he appealed the sentence at crown court, saying he needed his vehicle for his livelihood as a self-employed satellite engineer.

Fergus Currie, representing Jack, said: “Mr Jack does not wish to reduce the seriousness of the consequences.

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“If the disqualification had continued there is a serious danger of his business going under.

“He has undergone punishment because he has had that month ban (since sentencing in July).”

Carol, of Old Mill Way, said: “I think it’s disgusting. I feel gutted and very let down.

“He is lucky he can work. I know Lil is elderly but if she was of working age then she would never be able to work again, she can’t do anything for herself.

“He has not got any respect for us and he’s clearly not man enough to take his sentence.

“It’s a slap in the face, after what has happened to us it feels like we have been knocked again.

“I do not think justice has been done.”

Recorder Ignatius Hughes QC said the bench felt confident Jack was concentrating on the traffic in order to make his appointment, rather than people in the area when the incident occurred.

He said: “The matter of disqualification for six months was proper, however we have taken into account he has a very good driving record.

“We also take into account he is self-employed, his age, the level of fine and the costs and as he is self-employed in the current climate it may be difficult to keep his business at all.

“He has served a month already and in our judgement we are prepared, as an act of mercy, to reduce the level of the disqualification to three months.”

The panel also decided to amend that to two months to take into account the disqualification time Jack has already honoured and agreed to make an appeal for costs.

Carol added: “This does not show consideration for what Lil and I have gone through.

“We were trying to put it behind us. He has ruined our lives and now he has done this.

“For someone that is sorry he has not acted like it.

“The positive side is that we are alive.”

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