Family of teenager killed by drink driver call for tougher sentences

OUTSIDE COURT: Jamie Still's mother Karen Strong with her parents. PIC: Tony Johnson
OUTSIDE COURT: Jamie Still's mother Karen Strong with her parents. PIC: Tony Johnson
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The family of a 16-year-old boy killed by a drink driver on New Year’s Eve has called for tougher sentences.

Max McRae, 21, was almost twice the drink drive limit when he sped through Otley and knocked down Jamie Still.

The youngster was returning home to a party with three friends was he was struck by McRae’s Vauxhall Corsa on Boroughgate around 9pm.

Leeds Crown court yesterday heard McRae had drunk five pints and a cocktail of liqueurs when he decided to take a friend for a driving lesson.

McRae, of Warren Lane, Otley, admitted causing death by careless driving while over the drink drive limit and was jailed for four years.

But outside the court Jamie’s mother Karen Strong said McRae had use his car like a weapon and added: “We want this sort of crime to be treated equally as manslaughter. This sentence does not reflect this.

“Until a few weeks ago McRae remained at liberty to drive. Not only is this totally disrespectful to Jamie, it is agony for family and friends.”

She added: “Why does the law allow offenders such a McRae the right to continue performing the activities that led to someone’s death?

“Please, please can we change this anomaly in the law and show some respect and feeling for victims, not perpetrators.”

Jamie was a popular and active A-level student at St Mary’s Roman Catholic School in Menston. He loved football, rugby and cricket and hoped to be a sports physiotherapist.

It is thought McRae was doing around 50mph when he hit Jamie.

The speed limit on the road is 30mph.

Jamie was taken to Leeds General Infirmary but died at 11.25pm from head and chest injuries.

Mrs Strong arrived at the scene within minutes of the collision and was at his bedside when he died.

McRae had been out drinking with his 17-year-old girlfriend earlier in the evening before returning to Otley town centre with another friend where they continued to drink.

After the incident his girlfriend told police she became concerned about McRae when she rang him and he said he was going to teach his friend to drive.

Michael Smith, prosecuting, said: “She became angry and told him not to be so stupid,”

McRae drove to a garden centre where he carried out handbrake turns before driving towards the centre of Otley.

Timothy Jacobs, mitigating, handed judge Jennifer Kershaw a letter which read: “I deeply regret what happened and I am so sorry that I can’t do anything to make things right.”

Mr Jacobs added: “It follows that there is nothing I can do on his behalf to make things right either. I do not seek to diminish or belittle the outcome of his actions that night.”

The barrister also handed the court references from McRae’s family and friends, describing him as a someone who was usually shy, polite and hard working.

Judge Kershaw said: “There is nothing, of course, that this court can do that can make any difference to loss felt by his family.”

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