14 years for drink driver who killed police

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A drunken van driver who killed two police officers when he smashed into their car following a high-speed pursuit was jailed for 14 years today.

Leayon Dudley, 41, was chased for around 50 miles across four counties before he hit the car at more than 80mph in a lay-by on the A42 near Worthington, Leicestershire.

He pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of Pc Andrew Munn, 37, and his Leicestershire police colleague, Bryan Moore, 39, last week after a legal technicality prevented the prosecution from pursuing a murder charge against him.

Judge Mr Justice Mitting, sentencing him at Stafford Crown Court, said: "Your decision condemned one officer, and as it happens, his passenger to death.

"I sentence you on the basis that you deliberately took a risk of the life of at least one and as it happened two police officers doing their duty.

"It is the duty of the courts to do their best to protect the lives of police officers doing their duty."

Dudley, of Oakhurst Road, Acocks Green, Birmingham, was also disqualified from driving for 10 years.

The father-of-two, who was nearly twice the legal drink-drive limit, was convicted of murdering one officer and unlawfully killing another following a trial two years ago but his convictions were quashed by the Court of Appeal.

A retrial was due to start last week but the prosecution was unable to bring a second trial on two counts of murder as he had already been acquitted of the murder of Pc Munn.

Prosecution counsel Frances Oldham QC said that after consultation with the families of the two victims, they had decided "with extreme reluctance" not to proceed with the murder charge.

Mr Justice Mitting told the court: "I think he deliberately drove into the layby knowing it was a layby, trying to evade the stinger, knowing that there was at least one police officer who was in that car whose life could be put at risk.

"That is why I don't think this was a case of death by dangerous driving nor was it gross negligence, it was the deliberate taking of a risk of the life of a police officer."

Brian Escott-Cox QC, defending, said Dudley had shown remorse within minutes of the crash.

The widows of both officers, Sarah Moore and Allison Munn were both in court for the sentencing today.

Outside court last week, Mrs Munn said she felt "cheated" by the legal system which saw Dudley convicted for the manslaughter of her late husband and cleared of murder.

She said: "We arrived at court, expecting to receive a fair hearing but due to gaps in the judicial system, we have been left with no alternative but to accept two counts of manslaughter.

"This man has now been given the right to diminish his sentence, diminish his convictions and quite literally get away with murder. Are our husbands' lives worth that little?"

She said David Blunkett, the former Home Secretary, had said a police officer's life was worth 20 years so Dudley should receive the same tariff for the death of her husband and his colleague.

Dudley had rowed with his ex-girlfriend when he jumped into a Transit van and drove off, sparking the pursuit in the early hours of August 15 last year.

Pcs Munn, 37, and Moore, 39, were in front of the van when they stopped to lay down a stinger-type device to stop the vehicle as it crossed into Leicestershire.

The court heard Dudley spotted their patrol car as it made a U-turn in front of him and accelerated.

The two officers were just stepping out of their car next to a lay-by when Dudley mounted a kerb and sped towards them.

He smashed into their car, killing Pc Munn instantly. Pc Moore died in hospital hours later.

Outside court, the two widows said the judge's hands had been tied by the outcome of the previous trial and they could not have expected a harsher sentence.

Mrs Moore, 40, whose three children, Christopher, 15, Jonathan, 13, and Victoria, 12, have been left without a father, said: "As far as we are concerned they were murdered.

"It was a deliberate act. We thought the appeal would enable us to try him again for murder but it has left us in an impossible situation.

"We were left with our hands tied and had to accept manslaughter. The sentence he was given was never going to be enough for us or for our families.

"Everyone has worked so hard for this but their hands were tied by the judicial system."

Mrs Munn, 37, whose husband left two children, Alexandra, 11, and Cameron, five, added: "It is the best we could have hoped for.

"We think the judge has recognised the impossible situation we have been left in and reflected that by his comments and by the sentence."