MPs back campaign for justice for road victims

Published date: 20 January 2014 |
Published by: Staff reporter
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A MEMBER of Parliament has backed calls for justice for a young mother-to-be who died along with her unborn baby in a horror crash.

Last week driver Calvin Craig Connah, 22, of Ffordd Derw, Leeswood, near Mold, was jailed for five years for causing the death of Maelor Hospital worker Christina Barchetti by dangerous driving on the A541 road at Pontblyddyn, on October 22, 2012.

However, her family and partner also wanted him charged with causing the death of her unborn baby girl Bella – but the law did not allow it.

After the case, her partner Graham Clarke said her family wanted to see a change in the law – because they felt that in the eyes of the law, the death of baby Bella did not seem to count.

Their calls have now been backed by Wrexham MP Ian Lucas, who is taking up the argument for sentencing guidelines to be reviewed.

“I first met with Christina’s mother and partner several months ago,” said Mr Lucas.

“It’s an exteremely distressing case for the family and an extremely difficult case as it involves the death of an unborn child.

“It’s another case of dangerous driving where the sentence does not seem to fit the crime.”

Mr Lucas said he was hoping to raise the issue in Parliament as part of the Driving Offences (Review of Sentencing Guidelines) Bill, which recently had its first reading after it was introduced by Clwyd South MP Susan Elan Jones.

Ms Jones is seeking tougher sentences for drivers following the death of nine-year-old Robert Gaunt of Overton, who died after being hit by a car driven by an unlicensed and uninsured driver in 2009.

The driver, David James Lunn, 61, of Moorland Avenue, Queen’s Park, Wrexham, served 10 months of a 22-month sentence for perverting the course of justice and was banned from driving for four years.

Mr Lucas said: “These are two similar cases which happened in a relatively small geographical area and, looking to the future, we need to look at the sentencing guidelines as both families aren’t satisfied with the punishment.”

Ms Jones said: “There’s been a lot of concern on a whole host of issues to do with dangerous driving offences and the important things is that the pressure is kept up.

“I think people are aware that there are huge discrepancies in sentences. What we want to do is get the guidelines reviewed so the sentences are restructured.

“For me it’s about getting the punishment to fit the crime and that can only be done through the review of sentencing guidelines.”

In sentencing Connah, Judge Philip Hughes said Christina Barchetti had done nothing wrong and was driving at a safe speed. She had no chance to take evasive action before Connah’s car hit her.

The 35-year-old died at Wrexham Maelor Hospital where she worked. Her daughter Bella was stillborn in an emergency Caesarian operation.

Judge Hughes said the starting point for sentencing was four years but which he increased to six years to reflect the aggressive nature of the driving and the excessive speed.

However, he added that the sentence would be reduced to five years to take into account mitigation including Connah’s previously clean criminal record.

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