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Hit-and-run victim's family calls for tougher sentencing

Family of cyclist killed by drink driver who fled the scene are petitioning Justice Secretary Michael Gove to strengthen dangerous driving sentencing

The family of a hit and run victim killed following a collision with a drink driver have launched a petition calling for a review of sentences for driving offences.

Graham Ruecroft was cycling near WallingfordOxfordshire, on June 4 last year when he was hit by a dark coloured Kia, driven by Maria Sutton, who was over the legal limit for alcohol.

The family of Ruecroft have expressed dismay at the maximum penalty for dangerous driving, which currently stands at 14 years, and are hoping for justice when Sutton is sentenced next month.

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Sutton failed to stop after the collision and Dr Ruecroft died of his injuries in hospital five days later.

Sutton was arrested on June 5 and pleaded guilty in December to perverting the course of justice by failing to stop. This month she pleaded guilty to driving without due care and attention while being over the legal alcohol limit.

Dr Ruecroft’s brother, Malcolm, said he believes the maximum sentence of 14 years for the offence should be higher.

He told the Oxford Mail: “What Sutton did after the incident – she left him in the road to die – that is what has destroyed us the most. Now we need justice."

"When I came out of the court last week I felt flat but most all devastated it has taken so long to get to this point.

"Our family has been doing round trips of 500 miles to be there and that has been exhausting."

His 81-year-old father and sisters have attended the court hearings over the past nine months.

He said: “My father has been in tears. He has lost a son.”

In May 2014 Chris Grayling, former Justice Secretary, announced a review of motoring offences and penalties, but 20 months later neither review has started. Cycling UK, the national cycling charity (formerly CTC), has called sentencing for serious driving offences an “unfathomable mess”, with “miscarriages of justice and weak sentencing” common.

Petition calling for lawmakers to increase sentencing for banned drivers collects 150 signatures per hour

In the Government’s latest Road Safety Statement, published in December, current Justice Secretary, Michael Gove, to whom the petition is directed, renewed the Government’s intention to hold a review, but gave no indication of a time scale.

In 2013 the family of a couple killed while riding a tandem bicycle in Bristol appealed to then Justice Secretary, Chris Grayling to increase the 14 years maximum sentence. The Prime Minister, David Cameron, then personally wrote to Grayling asking him to review the maximum sentence for causing death by dangerous driving

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