Anger at sentence on lorry driver who killed boy

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ANGER erupted in a Bristol court yesterday after a lorry driver who ran over and killed a teenage boy was sentenced to 240 hours' community service.

Bristol Crown Court was told that Lee Taziker, 25, who was twice over the drink-drive limit, veered to the edge of the road and crashed into John Smith, 17, who was walking along a grass verge. A second driver ran over John's body after it was thrown into the road.

Judge Colin Willis told Taziker: 'I know that popular newspapers call for serious sentences but I accept that in this case you were guilty of a momentary inattention.' There were shouts of 'rot in hell' from the public gallery as the judge passed sentence and banned him from driving for three years.

John was walking along the A303 from Stoke-sub-Hamdon, Somerset, to his home at South Petherton, when Taziker hit him, the court was told. Sarah Forshaw, for the defence, said: 'He feels sick about what he has done and must live with that. He tells me it's the last thing he thinks of every night when he goes to bed.'

Taziker, from Kent, admitted causing death by careless driving while under the influence of alcohol - a crime which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years - on 17 October last year.

The judge told him: 'Anybody who sits in these courts as I do and has cases such as this come before them cannot but be aware of the great grief suffered by families in this respect but . . . I do not think any useful purpose would be served by sending you to prison.'

John's father, Steve, a 41-year- old builder, said after the hearing: 'I simply cannot understand it. He's got community service - and we've got a life sentence. It just makes a mockery of the law.'

Derek Probart, chairman of the Campaign against Drink Driving pressure group, described the judge's comments as 'absolutely outrageous' and said Taziker should have been jailed.