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Last Updated: Monday, 21 June, 2004, 13:42 GMT 14:42 UK
Father slams 'lenient' sentence
Fatal crash victims
From left: Anne Martin, her daughter Ashley and Ross Sneddon
The father of a boy killed by a hit-and-run driver who was high on drink and drugs has condemned the 11-year jail sentence passed by a judge.

Andrew Sneddon's five-year-old son Ross was killed when Dean Martin, 23, lost control of a stolen car and struck him, along with a mother and her daughter.

The trio were returning from a dance class when Martin's car mounted a pavement in Glenrothes and hit them.

Martin received an 11-year sentence, which Mr Sneddon condemned as lenient.

Anne Martin, 39, her eight-year-old daughter Ashley and Ross all died following the incident, which occurred on 15 February in the town's Minto Crescent.

Martin, of Carfrae Drive, Glenrothes, Fife, fled the scene of the accident.

He was arrested later the same day and admitted to being drunk and high on ecstasy at the time.

Passing sentence at the High Court in Edinburgh, Lord Brodie said Martin should never drive again.

The judge said the sentence would have been greater had Martin not pleaded guilty from the outset, and thus avoided the need for a trial.

The justice system has let me down, it's let my family down, it's let Ross down
Andrew Sneddon
Fighting back tears outside the court, Andrew Sneddon, 28, questioned the length of sentence.

He said: "Is that what my son's life amounted to, 11 years? Is that what the other lives amounted to, 11 years?

"I would have liked to have seen life, wouldn't any father? Wouldn't any of you if you had lost a child in circumstances like that?

"The justice system has let me down, it's let my family down. It's let Ross down. The justice system has let victims down. It just doesn't seem fair."

He added: "I know the judge's hands are tied by directives and he has got to abide by those laws he administers. That's just my feelings as a father and as a human being."

Ross's mother Michelle Sneddon, 29, was also in court to hear the sentence passed but was too distressed to comment afterwards.

'Dreadful event'

Defence counsel Edgar Prais QC said Martin attempted suicide after realising what had happened.

Mr Prais quoted the words of Martin as he locked himself in the bathroom with some vodka shortly after the incident and cut his arms in an attempt to kill himself.

He said: "I just want to do myself in, I just killed two bairns. I would rather die than know I have killed two children."

Mr Prais added: "Dean Martin is clearly shattered by what has happened, like the people he injured and like the family whose bereavement he is responsible for.

"He is going to have to live his whole life in the shadow of this horrendous misdeed. His is a debt to society that can never be met."

At the time of the incident, an elderly neighbour said there was a feeling of "disbelief" among residents at the "dreadful" event.

The dead children were pupils at Southwood Primary School.


WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's Andrew Cassell
"He ploughed into a group of women and children"



SEE ALSO:
Are road death jail terms fair?
21 Jun 04  |  Scotland
Crash death trio laid to rest
24 Feb 04  |  Scotland
Driver accused of causing deaths
16 Feb 04  |  Scotland


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