Wisbech family receives national road safety award for campaign in memory of son
PUBLISHED: 17:29 15 January 2014 | UPDATED: 17:29 15 January 2014
The family of Jamie Butcher, who was killed by a speeding driver three years ago, has received a prestigious award recognising their contribution to ensuring justice for victims’ families.
Jamie’s stepdad, Steve Green, mum Tina and sister Hollie Butcher, all from Wisbech, received the Road Safety Campaigners of the Year Award at road safety charity Brake’s annual reception at the Houses of Parliament.
The family began their campaign after Jamie’s killer, who went through a red light and was speeding at twice the limit before hitting Jamie on a pedestrian crossing in February 2011, was sentenced to just 43 months in prison.
He is likely to serve less than two years of the sentence.
The family were appalled to discover four in ten drivers who are convicted of killing someone through risky driving aren’t sent to jail and only one in 10 are sentenced to more than five years in prison.
Devastated by the sentence they set up a campaign, Justice for Jamie, calling for tougher sentences.
Mr Green said: “This award recognises a lot of hard work, not just by ourselves but by many other people. We are hopeful for a positive outcome from the upcoming Sentencing Council review, which should help make sure there are tougher penalties.”
Julie Townsend, deputy chief executive of Brake, said: “Jamie’s family have been instrumental in highlighting the gross injustice felt by so many families who suffer the horror of a loved one being killed in a road crash.
“They have courageously helped to mobilise political will for tougher sentences for drivers who kill through risky driving. Their campaign has already made major in-roads, and if it succeeds it could have an enormous impact for other families, helping to prevent needless suffering and distress, as well as ensuring traffic offending is taken as seriously as other crimes that end and devastate people’s lives by our criminal justice system.”
They launched the campaign with our newspaper and, with the backing of MP Steve Barclay and Brake, took the issue to Parliament.
The campaign calls for the Sentencing Council to review judges’ guidelines so drivers who kill receive tougher sentences.
It also urges the government to consider abolishing the offence of Causing Death by Careless Driving, which carries a much lower maximum sentence than Causing Death by Dangerous Driving, so all drivers who kill through bad driving are charged with the latter.
The current system means that many killer drivers who have taken serious risks, like speeding or driving while being distracted, are prosecuted with the lesser offence and given short sentences, or even evade jail completely.
The Butcher family appeared in national media as the campaign petition launched nationally in October 2012. As the family’s e-petition began to collect thousands of signatures, they set to work raising the campaign’s profile among policy-makers.
Steve secured a meeting with Government ministers last year resulting in the Sentencing Council announcing it would conduct a review into current guidelines.
The family continues gathering support in preparation for the Sentencing Council review which is expected to start in mid-2014 and be ready for consultation in 2015.