Where is the justice?

A mother last night told how she felt let down by the justice system after a drink-driver responsible for a crash which killed her teenage daughter and four other people won a two-year reduction in his jail sentence.

A mother last night told how she felt let down by the justice system after a drink-driver responsible for a crash which killed her teenage daughter and four other people won a two-year reduction in his jail sentence.

Angela Took, of Oulton Broad, near Lowestoft, spoke out after the Court of Appeal in London reduced Ben Morphey's sentence to 6½ years, ruling the tragedy was not caused by a deliberate act of bad driving.

The crash on the A12 near Blythburgh, in north Suffolk, claimed the lives of Mrs Took's 18-year-old daughter Carla, Lowestoft sisters Claire and Jenny Stoddart, aged 18 and 15 respectively, and two people in Morphey's car.

Morphey, 23, of High Street, Yoxford, in Suffolk, admitted five charges of causing death by careless driving while unfit due to alcohol and was sentenced to 8½ years in June, but yesterday three appeal judges ordered a two-year reduction.


You may also want to watch:


Mrs Took, 49, said: “I feel very let down by the justice system in this country. We've had to relive all the emotions and to what avail? He has a right to appeal, but we as victims have none.

“I am absolutely dismayed. I was trying to prepare for the fact the sentence would be reduced, but deep down I was hoping it wouldn't be. Where is the justice?”

Most Read

Carla, Claire and Jenny, who had all been pupils at Benjamin Britten High School, in Lowestoft, watched a Red Hot Chili Peppers concert in Ipswich shortly before the crash on July 1, 2006.

Morphey, an Army aircraft technician based at Wattisham, Suffolk, had driven a friend's Renault Laguna at the end of a night out after it was decided he was the least affected by alcohol.

He was estimated to be up to twice the legal drink-drive limit when he lost control of the car and veered into the opposite carriageway, colliding with a Vauxhall Astra being driven by Claire Stoddart.

During the earlier sentencing hearing at Ipswich Crown Court, the judge said Morphey would have to serve half of his 8½-year jail term.

Mrs Took added: “He caused a crash that killed five people and all he's got to serve now is just over three years. How does that fit the crime?

“In the lead-up to Christmas with the drink-drive campaigns, what kind of message does this send out?”

Phil Stoddart, the father of Claire and Jenny, said: “The issue is the fact there has been such a change from the original sentence to the new one.

“In June, when the original sentence was passed, everything was taken into account. Today there has been no changes in circumstances and no new evidence, but there is a different sentence.”

Morphey, who was present at yesterday's hearing, had his sentence cut by Lord Justice Laws, Mr Justice Lloyd Jones and Sir Michael Astill.

Sir Michael, announcing the court's decision, said: “We acknowledge the most tragic consequences of his driving. We understand the deep grief his actions have caused and the anguish to so many who have lost their loved ones. It is difficult to imagine the lifelong sadness to these persons.

“However, the cause of this tragedy was not a deliberate act of bad driving. The total irresponsibility resulted from driving above the alcohol limit.”

Simon Bonner, 40, and Kim Abbott, 41, were passengers in Morphey's car and died in the crash. Two youngsters in the car driven by Claire Stoddart were also injured.

Morphey claimed he had only drunk four pints of lager and had stopped drinking earlier in the evening. He said he felt capable of driving and the accident had been caused by a momentary lapse of attention.

Yesterday, his counsel, John Madden, argued that the sentence passed in June was “manifestly excessive”.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter