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Last Updated: Monday, 21 June, 2004, 16:18 GMT 17:18 UK
Are road death jail terms fair?
A man who admitted causing the deaths of a woman and two children has been sentenced to 11 years in jail.

Dean Martin was drunk and high on ecstasy when he lost control of his car in Glenrothes in February.

The father of one of the victims questioned the length of the sentence saying it was "disgraceful".

Do you think 11 years was the correct sentence on Martin?

If not, what do you think would have been appropriate?

Do you think our road traffic laws provide sufficient deterrents or should they be made tougher?

The following comments reflect the balance of opinion we have received so far. This forum is now closed.


To be honest, I am surprised he got so much! The courts are far too inconsistent when it comes to road deaths. I think the jail terms should be made much tougher and a lot longer. A car, when driven recklessly should treat as an attack with a deadly/lethal weapon and with a sentence to match.
Ray, London

Sentences are supposed to reflect the culpability of what someone has done rather than just the consequences. Such sentences cannot be measured in terms of the value of the life lost. These lives can never be replaced or compensated for. This is not of much consolation to the victim's family but the court's must always strike a balance.
Pankaj, Leeds

What is the difference between getting drunk and killing someone with your car and getting drunk and killing someone with a knife? Bring in vehicular homicide laws and stiff mandatory sentences with no parole options.
Leigh, Edinburgh

If you kill someone while driving the charge is causing death by dangerous driving. Why isn't it at least manslaughter?
CG, UK

If I was to take that concoction and go and shoot people with a firearm I would expect never to be released. Hitting someone with a 1.5tonne vehicle at excessive speed should be classed as murder. I nearly lost my in-laws due to a drink driver hitting them head on at 70mph. He had paid his fine, re-taken his test and was enjoying his life while three years further on my in-laws were still waiting for compensation.
David, Renfrewshire

Where there are particularly aggravating circumstances i.e. there were multiple deaths and they were caused by someone driving a stolen vehicle (which is what happened in this case) then jail terms should definitely be higher i.e. an extra 5 years added to whatever jail sentence the culprit would receive if they'd been driving their own car, plus 5 years per person killed. Let's face it, nobody HAS to drive a stolen car. They do it because they are thieves and because they are selfish. The prospect of a long jail sentence might make them think twice.
Michael Franks, Liverpool

The problem today is not simply that killer drivers are not punished harshly enough, but that criminals as a whole are not punished properly.
Brian, UK

Sentences in this country are a joke and belittle the loss to family and friends of loved one/s. Longer tougher sentences are needed to deter mindless driving.
Amanda, Lincolnshire

To make matters worse, he will not serve 11 years, if he behaves himself, but two thirds before he is eligible for parole. Sentences should be served in full and any misbehaviour should result in added time in prison. Sentencing in this country is a joke.
Ian, Wakefield

In this case the drink and drug abusing murderer has been handed under four years for each of his victims. It makes me sick to the stomach to think that he will be free in such a short space of time.
Grant, Teesside UK

If sentences remain so low, perhaps murderers and hit men will take to using cars instead of guns: it is the perfect way to kill and avoid a life sentence.
Lisa, Oxford

The leniency of courts toward drivers who cause death due to their complete disregard for human life is incredible
Mike Collins, UK

He should have got life. He decided to steal the car, take drugs, and drink in excess. Therefore he should be hanged, unfortunately that is not allowed, mores the pity, but at least he should get life.
Nick, Bournemouth

Killing someone on the road should be treated the same as any other form of killing.
John McGuire, Livingston

If you kill someone while driving the charge is causing death by dangerous driving. Why isn't it at least manslaughter?
CG, UK

If you get drunk and kill someone with a knife or gun it could probably be proved that there was an intent to kill, so that's a pretty fuzzy-headed, irrelevant argument. However, yes, the term is too short seeing as he'll serve half that if he's unlucky, more likely less than half. But don't confuse the issue by bringing drunken murder into it, as opposed to drunken manslaughter, which is what this chap is plainly guilty of.
Arthur Taylor, Oklahoma City, USA

There should be a zero tolerance on drink driving, no excuse, a car is a dangerous machine and any drink will reduce concentration. I cannot believe their is any need for debate on the matter, common sense is something which this country seriously lacks.
Graeme Findlay, Scotland

11 years is a disgracefully lenient sentence. The killer will be out in less than eight with remission. The sentence for this sort of crime should be life.
Anthony Cunningham, Edinburgh

If this is the worst that can happen for killing three innocent people then where is the deterrent?
Catherine, Glasgow

The leniency of courts toward drivers who cause death due to their complete disregard for human life is incredible. When you consider the sentences received for instance by the criminals behind the Millennium Dome heist, it is clear that courts value material possessions more than human life.
Mike Collins, UK

If he had been sober and "only" driving too fast, he would have gone down for more than a year or two. More speed cameras, more consistent punishment of dangerous driving, drunk or sober, is needed.
Richard Lucas, Poland

At least he seems to have been given a lifetime ban. If the victims had by good luck managed to get out of the way, this guy would probably have received just a short ban and been back on the roads in a couple of years. Shouldn't dangerous driving carry a mandatory lifetime ban?
Richard Caley, Edinburgh

If this is the worst that can happen for killing three innocent people then where is the deterrent? The drink and drug addicts are the ones who cause the most misery in this country and yet seem to get off lightly because of their "problem". It makes me sick.
Catherine, Glasgow

11 years is plenty of time to reflect on the stupidity of the events of one night. This is the law, it serves to protect us, not deal out revenge
Nicolas, US

I think the laws should definitely be made tougher. In California the laws are just now being made tough for drunk drivers and they are still inadequate. For years people could maim and kill and get very light sentences if any at all due partly to the enormous influence of the alcohol industry. People all over the world need to know that if they drink and drive and hurt or kill someone that there will be serious consequences.
Marsha Respess, Los Angeles

We need a system where the punishment fits the crime and is known and seen to be even throughout the courts, not a system where one person gets 1 year and another gets 11, because one had a better day in court than the other. After all, isn't that why they call it "justice"?
Annabelle, Helensburgh

As well as his custodial sentence, he has the constant reminder that he was responsible for those deaths. People often get lesser sentences for premeditated, vicious crimes. His sentence is, I believe, measured and reasonable.
Carlo, London

No sentence can ever be severe enough to compensate the loss of life of innocent people. Hard as it is, relatives of victims should therefore not seek to judge whether a sentence is severe enough. It will never be. Much more important for the relatives are the mourning process and the gradual rebuilding of a normal life.
Arnold

What sort of message does this give out to people - that you can kill three people using a car with no mitigating circumstances and you'll spend less than 10 years in jail. The victim's father was totally correct. It is a disgrace.
Dougal McKinnon, UK

What's the difference between a 25-year sentence and a 10-year sentence? The 25-year sentence is for someone who remains a danger, whereas a 10-year sentence teaches someone a lesson and is quite sufficient to discourage others from committing the same crime. 11 years is plenty of time to reflect on the stupidity of the events of one night. This is the law, it serves to protect us, not deal out revenge.
Nicolas, US




SEE ALSO:
Hit-and-run driver gets 11 years
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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