Dangerous driver who killed promising Wisbech student could serve less than two years in jail
PUBLISHED: 16:38 26 October 2012
The family of a promising student killed by a speeding 4x4 have launched a campaign demanding tougher sentencing for dangerous drivers.
It comes as a Norwich Crown Court judge said court cases involving deaths on the roads should be televised, to warn drivers of the devastation they can cause.
Jamie Butcher, 22, had been accepted on a post-graduate university course just the day before he died walking to a cash point near his Wisbech home.
His mother Tina, younger sister Hollie and stepfather Stephen Green began the Justice for Jamie campaign online after learning the driver responsible for his death could serve less than two years in prison.
Their hard-hitting website went live this week and describes the harrowing aftermath of the crash and subsequent court case.
Backed by their local MP Stephen Barclay, the family is launching an e-petition on Monday calling for an immediate overhaul of sentencing guidelines so “killer drivers” serve longer prison terms.
Jamie was hit by the Chrysler Cruiser with such force that he was found more than 40m from the crossing, at the junction of Churchill Road and Norwich Road.
He died from his injuries at the scene of the crash on February 20 last year.
Driver Michael Moore had been travelling at nearly twice the 30mph speed limit and ran a red light in his rush to get to a shop before it closed.
Moore was sentenced to 43 months for causing death by dangerous driving at Cambridge Crown Court after switching to a guilty plea on the eve of his trial in April.
But Jamie’s grieving family was disgusted to learn he could be released in less than two years.
“We attended court every day and were devastated by how lenient the sentence was,” Mr Green said. “That’s not justice, is it? We just can’t understand it.
“Jamie was incredibly bright and had such a magnetic personality - it was all such a waste.”
The family began researching the issue of sentencing and a freedom of information request to the Justice Department revealed that the maximum sentence for dangerous driving - 14 years - had never been handed down.
“How much worse does it have to be?” Mr Green said.
Mr Barclay, MP for north east Cambridgeshire, said parliament had increased the maximum sentence from 10 years in 2004.
“The will of parliament is not being reflected in what happens to these killer drivers and it’s leaving families with a strong sense that justice is not being done,” he said.
“Victims’ families feel they are being let down by the courts. It is a serious issue and one I’m determined to champion.
“This is a national campaign because it affects every constituent and every member of parliament.”
Mr Barclay is to raise Jamie’s case with justice secretary Chris Grayling in the House of Commons and is launching a campaign video alongside the e-petition on Monday.
Jamie, a former Neale Wade College student, graduated from Leicester’s De Montfort University with a degree in human psychology and had been going to study human rights at Manchester University.
His parents believe he would have gone on to work for a charity.
Mr Green said: “Our family has been destroyed. We were so close to begin with, but it really has broken us apart. The anniversary will be difficult, as are birthdays and Christmas.
“But sometimes it hits you at the strangest times. The three of us went out for a meal and we just sat and stared at the fourth chair where Jamie should have been.”
The campaign website describes how the family grew worried when Jamie failed to return and the terrible moment police told them the news.
In the days that followed, Mr Green had to identify Jamie’s body and the family began to plan his funeral.
“None of us ate for days.” they recall. “Somebody called out a doctor to us. He prescribed some pills but nothing could change the fact Jamie was gone.
“Family and friends tried to comfort us, but it was, and still is, a pain that just can’t be cured.”
The family worked with Wisbech-based company Viscribe on the website and Facebook, with director Chris Waters donating his time.
“It was very painful to relive what happened and to put it into words,” Mr Green added. “Hopefully it will have an impact and make people who read it sympathetic to our cause.”
A link to the petition will appear at www.justiceforjamie.co.uk on Monday.