By Dominic Ponsford
Journalists from the Newcastle Evening Chronicle were due to meet the Home Secretary this week as part of the paper’s campaign to secure tougher sentences for killer drivers.
The Justice for Rebecca campaign was launched as a result of the death of six-year-old Rebecca Sawyer in a car crash on New Year’s Eve.
She died after the car she was travelling in was hit by a stolen Astra. The driver of the stolen car, Ian Carr, had 89 previous driving convictions and was sentenced to nine-and-half-years in jail – just under the maximum 10 then allowed by the law.
A decade previously Carr had been involved in another fatal accident involving a stolen car he had been driving.
The Chronicle is asking David Blunkett to give judges the power to jail killer drivers for life. So far 42,000 readers have signed a Chronicle petition on the issue and a further 18,000 have signed a petition circulated by sister Newcastle paper The Journal.
Assistant editor Mick Smith and reporter Jamie Diffley were among a delegation meeting the Home Secretary which also included representatives of the Sawyer family.
Chronicle editor Paul Robertson said: “We had an airgun campaign which attracted 21,000 signatures but to get 42,000 is phenomenal. It was due to the tragedy of the little girl, the courage of the family and the fact that it could happen to anyone. Dangerous driving and drink-driving is something that concerns people.”
He said: “We welcome recent moves to increase sentences for certain driving offences but believe courts should be given discretionary powers to impose life sentences on offenders such as Ian Carr.”