Sheffield crime: "The public don’t feel safe and the criminals are laughing at the law"

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A judge said a motorist’s driving was “as bad as it gets” after he drove the wrong way up the M1 while high on while high on cocaine, reached speeds of up to 90mph and narrowly avoided a collision with a HGV.

He was jailed for 18 months for dangerous driving.

The sentence outraged Star reader, Ray Cundy, from Waterthorpe, who has written an open letter in which he claims “the public don’t feel safe and that the criminals are laughing at the law”.

This is his letter in full:

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“I have just read a story in your newspaper about a man who did the following on our roads whilst driving a car:

-He drove the wrong way up the M1;

- He was high on drugs at the time;

- He ran a number of red lights being chased by the police for driving away after he’d been stopped;

- He was stopped initially because a computer check by the police suggested the car had links to organised crime;

- He reached speeds of up to 90mph on roads that were designated as 40mph;

- He narrowly avoided an accident with an HGV;

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- He only stopped by ramming a police vehicle, which of course the taxpayer will have pay for to have it repaired;

- He then tried to escape the police once his car had stopped;

- He also pleaded guilty to a previous dangerous driving offence.

In his defence his lawyer suggested that the offender “has quite substantial personal mitigation” and went on to say that his client had suffered several medical issues one being having a bad back from a previous ‘serious accident’.

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On hearing this news I nearly broke into tears (not really, I’m being sarcastic). How does what this man suffered have any bearing on how he drives on the public highway? I would suggest that if he’d already been involved in a previous serious accident it would have made him drive more carefully, not use the public highway as a racetrack and thus endanger other road users.

So what was the judge’s response to this “defence” and the list of actions leading up to this man being caught?

First of all, the judge acknowledged that it was hard to conceive of a worse case of dangerous driving. He then said this is as bad as it gets as it could have caused the death of someone or resulted in very serious injury.

Apparently, the man had a criminal record of 25 previous convictions, spanning 54 offences, six of which were for dangerous driving. Therefore, the offender was no angel and had shown he hadn’t learnt from his previous brushes with the court.

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Now with the judge stating that “this is as bad as it gets” I would have thought (and hoped) he would have come down on this individual like a ton of bricks, given the man’s obvious criminal record. No such hopes I’m afraid, the man got 18 months, which I assume given any good behaviour he would be out in less than a year.

Of course there was another part of the sentencing that meant he was banned from driving for three years and nine months but I suspect, given this man’s record and obvious disrespect for the law, he will find a way around the ban and be on our roads again as if nothing has happened.

Whether the judge’s hand was tied by our sentencing laws for such crimes I don’t know but the sentence seems ludicrously lenient for an habitual criminal. No wonder that the public don’t feel safe and that the criminals are laughing at the law. We need tougher sentencing to send out the right message but it seems the sentencing is just as soft as the prisons.”

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