A speeding drunk-driver who mowed down a dad-of-two out cycling in Sheffield has been released from prison after just two years.
Emma Egan was jailed for just four years in July 2014 after admitting causing death by dangerous driving, but Eric’s family say they were told Egan was released on licence in July this year to serve the second half of her sentence in the community.
Eric’s heartbroken widow Karen Codling said Egan had been moved to an open prison within months of her sentence starting.
Karen said she remains angry at the sentence given to Egan, whose own sister was killed by a drink-driver eight years earlier.
Speaking to the Star to back the Drive for Justice campaign demanding a Government review of sentencing powers in dangerous driving cases, Karen said the impact on her and her two daughters of Eric’s death has been ‘horrendous’.
She said: “My anger hasn’t gone away.
“I’m watching my daughters grow up without their dad.
“It is hard, I never wanted to be a single parent.
“This year has been slightly better than the last two years. There hasn’t been as much crying and breaking down.
“When one of the girls says ‘I miss my dad, I want my dad’, you can’t do anything. All you can do is cuddle them and let them cry.
“We know we can’t bring him back but when you look at photographs it is still difficult to believe he is not out there somewhere.”
Eric, aged 55, was a painter and decorator at Ponsford furniture store and was originally from Middlesbrough.
Karen said: “Eric was quiet. Me and the kids were the loud ones. He was very, very fit and very sporty. He loved football and was a massive Middlesbrough fan.
“At his work, they all loved him. He had a really dry sense of humour and we were a team, we looked after the kids together.”
Eric had been out for a Sunday morning cycle ride when he was hit and killed.
Sheffield Crown Court heard in 2014 that Egan, from Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, had jumped behind the wheel of her car after a night of drinking after being dumped by her boyfriend of the time, Liam Dent.
While tailgating her ex as he travelled in the car in front, Egan lost control of her Vauxhall Astra, which span and ploughed head on into Eric on Whirlowdale Road, Whirlow.
Despite initially stopping, Egan left the scene without reporting the collision.
The court heard that when police found her in Mr Dent’s home in Sheffield, Egan was ‘wailing incoherently, rocking in her seat and physically shaking before falling to the floor and vomiting.’ She told officers ‘Oh God, what have I done? I’m so sorry’.
Karen said police officers arrived at her house shortly after the fatal crash to tell her the dreadful news her husband had died.
“They knocked on the door - the way you see on TV and can’t imagine in real life,” she said.
“I had just been ringing Eric to see where he was because me and the girls were just going out.
“I was just hoping what the police were telling me wasn’t true. Then it goes through your mind, I have got to tell the girls.”
She said it had been difficult to see Egan being sentenced to just four years in prison.
Karen said: “It is really hard to describe it, I just remember sitting in the public gallery looking at her.
“They were trying to mitigate for her, saying her boyfriend had dumped her and all this stuff to try and justify what she had done.
“At that point, there had been no attempt from her to apologise or say anything to me and the family.
“When the judge said six years and then took 25 per cent off for her pleading guilty, for me that was ridiculous. There was no way she could have done anything else but plead guilty.
“When they said four years, I knew she would be out in two - is that really how much Eric’s life was worth?
“After the case, her barrister approached me and said Egan wanted to write to me. I said they could tell her to stick it. She had plenty of opportunity to apologise before and hadn’t done.”
Karen said she believes sentencing laws for death by dangerous driving cases must be reviewed.
She said: “It doesn’t feel like she has been punished, with only a few months in a proper prison then going into an open prison with days out. How is that a deterrent? The consequences aren’t that serious.
“There are people in jail who have done a crime and not killed somebody and have got longer sentences than what these people are getting.
“Why is killing somebody with a car different to killing somebody in another fashion?
“How would these Government ministers feel if it was one of them that got that knock on the door from the police telling them a loved one has been killed?”
The Ministry of Justice said it would not comment on release dates for individual prisoners.
But a Prison Service spokesman added: “Public protection is our priority. Offenders who have served the custodial part of their sentence are subject to a strict set of licence conditions on release, which may include exclusion zones, non-contact orders and daily appointments with parole officers. If they fail to comply, they can be recalled to prison.”
DRIVE FOR JUSTICE:
Our campaign calls on Government to:
* Re-work sentencing guidelines and provide specialist training for judges so they can use the full powers that are available to them when deciding sentences for offenders
* Give tougher sentences for the worst offenders
* Have all culpable deaths treated as manslaughter / culpable homicide
* Have more - and longer - driving bans handed out to those who kill or seriously injure on the roads, or whose driving risks injury and death
* Examine how people are often prosecuted for the lesser charge of death by ‘careless’ driving rather than death by ‘dangerous’ driving; families often feel the lesser ‘careless’ charge undermines the severity of the offence when someone is killed or seriously injured.
* Close the loopholes that exist as with hit-and-runs; failure to stop carries a maximum of six months jail while drink driving penalties are tougher. So at present a driver who has been drinking can get a lesser sentence if they flee the scene of a collision.
* Have even tougher sentences for those who offend while drink or drug driving, using excessive speed, are disqualified / unlicensed, or who are using their mobile phones.
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