OUT IN THE FIELD: Uproar at ‘lenient’ sentencing

The family and friends of Maria and Richard are now calling for tougher sentences. Photograph by Eddie Mitchell
The family and friends of Maria and Richard are now calling for tougher sentences. Photograph by Eddie Mitchell

There has been a lot of talk in the last week about the sentence handed down by a Crown Court judge in Guildford to Jodan Hunt, who was 16 times the drug-driving limit when he crashed into a car killing mother of three Maria Smith and her long term partner Richard Lewis-Clements on Eastbourne seafront the Friday night of Airbourne. The accident that night devastated so many people’s lives. Just three weeks later the 24-year-old, himself a father of two, pleaded guilty to two counts of causing death by dangerous driving and was sentenced to six years in jail for each offence, to run concurrently which basically means six years in total and not 12, and disqualified from driving for eight years with the stipulation he take an extended retest should he ever think about getting behind the wheel of a car again. The couple’s family and friends are now pushing for tougher sentences and have the support of many people who have taken to social media criticising the sentencing, saying it is too lenient and questioning how the courts came to such a decision and why. The answer lies within sentencing guidelines for judges which clearly states the maximum penalty for causing death by dangerous driving is 14 years. But the sentencing guidelines are so prescriptive that between 2004 and 2012 – as no more recent figures are available as yet – not one single person received the maximum sentence. Judges take into account various factors, both aggravating and mitigating, when they are sentencing and more often than not, an early guilty plea can see a sentence reduced by one third. Quite whether the families of the couple will appeal to the Attorney General for Jodan Hunt to be returned to court and given a longer sentence remains to be seen. But there is a groundswell of opinion that without new guidelines and stronger deterrents we will never see a significant decrease in the number of people being killed or seriously injured on our roads through dangerous and careless driving.

If like me, you’re born and bred in Eastbourne and love the history of the place and how it has changed over the years, you will love the current exhibition gracing the walls at the Heritage Centre in Carlisle Road. On from now until October 29, Eastbourne Streetscapes Through Time is a selling exhibition by Paul Jordan. Many photographs and engravings exist to record Eastbourne’s town centre architecture from Victorian days to the present time and Paul has made reference to these to produce new artworks documenting the changing face of familiar streetscapes.

At each of the locations Paul’s watercolour and ink illustrations compare the same buildings from different eras, leading the viewer to see how much rebuilding or remodelling has taken place and how many of today’s shops were originally built as private residences. Be prepared for a wonderful trip down Memory Lane with the likes of Bobby’s, International and Martin’s Bank cropping up in the prints.

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