Drunk driver who killed child loses appeal

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A drunk driver jailed for seven years for killing a 15-month-old boy lost an appeal against her sentence today.

Toddler Finlay Woods died in September 2008 when his pram was crushed by a four-wheel drive vehicle driven on to the pavement outside a primary school by Katie Gutierrez-Perez.

Mother-of-two Gutierrez-Perez, 41, of Chingford, east London, had downed two bottles of cider, wine and 14 sleeping tablets.

She had taken the concoction in an effort to kill herself, but changed her mind and was driving to hospital when the tragedy happened.

Three judges at the Court of Appeal in London rejected the former restaurateur's challenge against the sentence imposed on her in January.

The child's parents were present in court for the proceedings.

Gutierrez-Perez was in the dock of the court to hear the ruling.

Lord Justice Aikens, who said the "facts of this tragic case are chilling", announced that the sentence imposed was "absolutely correct" - it was neither wrong in principle nor manifestly excessive.

Gutierrez-Perez was jailed at London's Snaresbrook Crown Court in January after pleading guilty to causing death by dangerous driving and driving without insurance.

It was said on her behalf today that at the time of the incident she was suffering "lamentable personal circumstances" and that her remorse was "genuine and ongoing".

Finlay's parents Tina and Roger Woods, both aged 32, of Highams Park, east London, who spoke out recently to urge drivers not to drink and called for tougher, deterrent sentences, welcomed today's decision.

Mr Woods, who said it was "gut-wrenching" sitting in court, described the ruling as "common sense" and his wife described her relief at the outcome.

Speaking outside court, she said that in January "we accepted that no sentence would be long enough to make up for our loss. Finn was only 15 months old when he was killed and our grief is still as strong today".

She said: "Only three months into her original sentence she applied for weekend release, which was granted.

"Then in April we found out that she had decided to appeal against her sentence.

"Since that time we have lived with the anguish that the woman who had taken our precious son away from us quite clearly feels no remorse."

Mrs Woods, who gave birth to a baby boy named Rafferty in July, added: "Perhaps you could call what happened that day an accident, an unfortunate event that wasn't planned, but that's too simple, too easy to dismiss.

"Finn was killed by a drunk and drug-fuelled driver who should never have been behind the wheel of a car. There can be no acceptable excuse for this."

Mrs Woods added: "By not accepting that she alone is responsible for his death, and taking the consequences dealt out by the court in good grace, she has now opened up the wounds that have only just begun to heal over for so many people."

The couple have three older children Dillon, six, Harvey, four, and Livvy, eight.