Family battles to get ‘Justice for Robert'

Reporter:

Phil Robinson

A FAMILY’S battle to change the law after their nine-year-old son was killed in a hit-and-run incident has gone all the way to Parliament.

But despite an MP’s plea for a toughening up of the law in cases like the one which claimed the life of nine-year-old Robert Gaunt, of Overton, in 2009, a Government Minister has refused to consider any change to the legislation.

Robert died after being knocked down by a car on the road near his home.

The car driver, David James Lunn, of Moorland Avenue, Queen’s Park, Wrexham, was jailed for 22 months and banned from driving for four years after he admitted perverting the course of justice.

Lunn, 61, also admitted two charges of causing death while he had no licence or insurance.

Claiming they had been “let down” by the justice system, Robert’s family began a campaign for a change to the law.

They started their ‘Justice for Robert’ petition, which they intend to hand to the Prime Minister.

More than 1,000 names have since been added online on the 10 Downing Street website, with 2,000 more collected on paper.

Yesterday, Clwyd South MP Susan Elan Jones raised the issue in Parliament and called for the law to be toughened.

Ms Jones said: “The law relating to driving that causes death but isn’t officially classified as ‘dangerous’ needs serious revision.

“In March 2009, nine-year-old Robert Gaunt died of multiple injuries after being hit by a car while crossing the road in Overton in my constituency.

“The driver of that car was unlicensed. He was uninsured. He failed to stop. He did not report the incident. He even tried to cover up the crime by having his car
repaired and re-sprayed.

“He was handed a sentence right at the top of what was legally possible – a grand total of 22 months.”

Speaking after the debate, Ms Jones said: “The law needs to be seriously tightened up in this area.

“If the driver in this case could have been convicted of death by dangerous driving, the maximum sentence would have been 14 years – but being unlicensed and uninsured is not enough to qualify as dangerous. That is scandalous.

“In fact, if an unlicensed and uninsured driver who flees the scene of a death does not commit any other ‘aggravating’ factors – as if illegally taking to the road and killing someone was not aggravating enough – the maximum sentence would be just 26 weeks, or a minimum community order. That is totally pathetic.”

She added: “Although MPs of different political parties now want to see the law strengthened, I was disappointed to hear the Government Minister in the debate saying there are no plans to bring in what he described as ‘tinkering legislation’.

“I don’t think that’s good enough – and we need to keep the pressure up on the Government to consider new sentencing guidelines for this offence.”

Tara Green, partner of Robert’s father Robert Jones, said: “I am just glad the issue is now on the record in Parliament, which gives us a basis to keep on chipping away at the issue.”

See full story in the Leader

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