Appeal Court cuts death crash driver's sentence

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The Independent Online

A drink-driver who ploughed into a teenage girl on Christmas Day last year as she returned home from midnight Mass had his six-year jail sentence cut to five years by the Court of Appeal today.

A drink-driver who ploughed into a teenage girl on Christmas Day last year as she returned home from midnight Mass had his six-year jail sentence cut to five years by the Court of Appeal today.

The court also slashed Craig Smith's 15-year driving ban to seven years.

Three appeal judges said that although they did not wish to add to the pain and grief suffered by the parents of 18-year-old student Amy Gonzales, they were obliged to follow sentencing principles laid down in previous cases.

Amy died four weeks after she was mown down by Smith's BMW being driven at up to 54mph in the high street at St Neots, Cambridgeshire.

Smith, 22, from Eaton Socon, Cambridgeshire, pleaded guilty at Peterborough Crown Court in April to causing death by dangerous driving and to driving with excess alcohol.

Amy's parents, Kevin and Melanie Gonzales, who were in court for today's ruling, had described the appeal move as "obscene".

They are campaigning for tougher penalties on drink-drivers who kill.

Amy was crossing the road with her boyfriend, trainee teacher Paul Ray, when they were hit. Mr Ray suffered a collapsed lung and serious leg fractures.

A breath test revealed that Smith had 54mg of alcohol in 100ml of breath. The legal limit is 35mg.