Killer driver's sentence could go to appeal court

SIR NICHOLAS LYELL, the Attorney General, is considering whether to ask the Court of Appeal to review the four-year prison sentence imposed on Robert Hoe, a drunk driver who killed two young sisters and crippled their 10-year-old friend, writes Simon Midgley.

Hoe, 19, who was twice over the legal drink-drive limit, uninsured and who did not have a driving licence, was driving his Ford Escort XR3i at speeds of up to 80mph through the narrow streets of South Bank, near Middlesbrough, on Easter Sunday, when he mounted the pavement and hit the three girls.

Maria and Rachel Reed, aged eight and six, were killed instantly, and Leigh-Ann Johns lost both legs as a result of her injuries. On Monday, at Teeside Crown Court, Mr Justice Bell sentenced Hoe, who admitted causing death by dangerous driving, to four years imprisonment.

The judge could not impose a longer sentence because the maximum penalty for the offence at the time it was committed was five years. In August, however, the maximum was doubled to 10 years and some legal authorities argue the new maximum can be applied retrospectively.

Sir Nicholas has asked the Crown Prosecution Service for the papers on the case. The

Attorney General's office is thought, however, to take the view that the sentence was correct under the then law.

Leading article, page 19

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