Hit-and-run killer jailed for 11 years

A hit-and-run driver was jailed for 11 years today for causing the death of a mother, her daughter and a five-year-old child while high on drink and drugs.

Dean Martin, 23, pleaded guilty to killing Anne Martin (no relation), 39, her daughter Ashley, aged eight, and five-year-old Ross Sneddon on February 15 at Glenrothes in Fife.

Sentencing Martin at the High Court in Edinburgh, Lord Brodie also disqualified him from driving for life.

Martin had been drinking and had taken ecstasy when he lost control of a stolenvehicle, mounted the pavement and ploughed into a group of mothers and childrenreturning from a dance class.

Ross's mother, Michelle Sneddon, was injured as she pushed the pram of her two-year-old daughter Lyta away to prevent further tragedy.

The defendant also admitted fleeing the scene of the accident and attempting to defeat the ends of justice.

But the court heard of Martin's remorse through his defence counsel Edgar Prais QC, who said his client attempted suicide after realising what had happened.

Mr Prais quoted the words of Martin as he locked himself in the bathroom with some vodka shortly after the accident and cut his arms in an attempt to kill himself.

He said: "I just want to do myself in, I just killed two bairns. I would rather die than know I have killed two children."

Mr Prais went on: "Dean Martin is clearly shattered by what has happened, like the people he injured and like the family whose bereavement he is responsible for - he is going to have to live his whole life in the shadow of this horrendous misdeed.

"His is a debt to society that can never be met."

Andrew Sneddon, the father of Ross, condemned Martin's sentence as he foughtback tears outside the High Court.

Mr Sneddon, 28, said: "I feel it was a show trial. I know the judge's hands are tied by directives and he has got to abide by those laws he administers.

"I'm Ross's father and I feel it's disgraceful he's only got 11 years.

"Is that what my son's life amounted to, 11 years? Is that what the other lives amounted to, 11 years?"

He added: "I would have liked to have seen life, wouldn't any father?

"Wouldn't any of you if you had lost a child in circumstances like that?

"Would you not have liked to see that person put away for the rest of their natural lives? That's just my feelings as a father and as a human being."

Michelle Sneddon, 29, was also in court to hear the sentence passed but she was too distressed to comment afterwards.

Lord Brodie said the usual sentence of 13 years for culpable homicide had beenreduced by two years in light of Martin's guilty plea.

The judge said he felt a custodial sentence for culpable homicide rather than dangerous driving was necessary in considering the death of three people, including two children, walking on a pavement on a Sunday morning.

Martin, who was living in Glenrothes at the time of the accident but gave his address as Perth prison, stared ahead throughout the proceedings.

The court was silent as Martin was led from the dock.

Mr Sneddon's eyes filed with tears and he was hugged by relatives as he wasasked about his thoughts for his dead son.

"It's a time for my son more than anything. I miss him so much," he said, his voice breaking with emotion.

Mr Sneddon said he did not blame the judge for the "token" sentence but he called on the Government to review the lengths of sentences for such cases.

He said Martin would probably serve only five or six years and he added: "The justice system has let me down, it's let my family down. It's let Ross down. The justice system has let victims down. It just doesn't seem fair."

He went on: "There's no way I feel he got his just deserts. I had set my sight low but I wasn't expecting that low.

"I would have expected that for each individual life he has taken.

"And two years off as a discount for good behaviour. What is this, the Kwik-E-Mart? You don't get discounts on taking somebody's life. It's life.

"We have still got to continue with ours. In 11 years' time my kids are going to be out and he could be walking the streets beside them.

"I don't want my kids having to look at the justice system knowing that their brother was killed and the person is walking the streets beside them almost.

"They may as well let him out now. It's just incomprehensible."

He said nobody would accept expressions of remorse from someone who had killed a loved one.

"But he may genuinely feel bad about what he's done. I can hope for his sake he does. He's going to have to live with it," he said.

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