Motorist fined pounds 2,000 after killing pedestrian

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The Independent Online
A MOTORIST who caused the death of a 16-year-old girl on her way to ballet classes by his dangerous driving was spared jail by an Old Bailey judge yesterday, amid criticism from the teenager's parents.

Sudhaker Sehgal, 60, a dentist from Enfield, north London, was fined pounds 2,000, ordered to pay pounds 1,825 costs and banned from driving for five years.

Sehgal was on his normal route home when his Mercedes mounted the pavement, demolished a road sign and hit first an elderly woman and then the teenager.

Livia Galli-Atkinson, from Enfield, north London, was trapped under the car in her ballet clothes. She received medical help at the scene but died the same evening.

Judge David Paget said in his judgment what caused Sehgal to swerve "was truly a momentary error of judgement. The tragic consequence was out of all proportion to that error of judgement." He quoted the late Lord Chief Justice, Lord Taylor, who had stated no court could bring back to life those who had been killed on the road.

"Courts cannot be persuaded by campaigns or clamour to pass extremely long sentences when the criminality of the offence does not justify it," Lord Taylor had stated. But the teenager's parents, Giulietta and George Galli-Atkinson intend to appeal to the Attorney General in a bid to have Sehgal's sentence increased.

Mrs Galli-Atkinson said outside court that the sentence was "appalling". "There is something wrong with the system. The price of life is now officially pounds 2,000," she said. Although the judge had said a short custodial sentence would do no good, Mrs Galli-Atkinson maintained there should be deterrent sentences "to signal to motorists there must be care. Motorists have a responsibility to take on board each time they put the key into the ignition. We are going to campaign to have the sentence reviewed and increased."

.Sehgal, from Enfield, denied causing death by dangerous driving on January 12 this year. He had two previous motoring convictions - for speeding and jumping a red light.He told police he was dazzled and braked as soon as he went on the pavement.