As a YEP investigation reveals the number of killer drivers given ‘lenient’ jail terms, a widow talks about the death of her ‘soulmate’.
Widowed just an hour before losing her sister to cancer, Lorraine Allaway’s world came to a sudden stop.
Her husband Bob, her “soulmate”, was dead. Her sister, just 60 minutes later, was gone. Her world, spinning, slowed to a crawl. everything she held dear was undone. The easy camaraderie she shared with joker husband Bob; his Freddie Mercury impressions, the familiar home they had built together. Now, with a bang, that was gone.
And to Lorraine, it was a drink driver who had caused this. A drink driver who, because of this country’s sentencing laws, will be walking free within months.
“If I were to go out and kill someone with a weapon I would get a life sentence but you get in a car drunk and kill someone, you get four years,” she said.
“This driver will serve approximately two-and-a-half years of his sentence whilst my family suffers a lifetime of pain at the loss of my husband.
“Where is the justice in that? It is a disgrace and an insult to those left behind.”
What mattered most to Lorraine was her family. Her sister had been taken by cancer, and the family had gathered that day to say goodbye.
It was on his way to meet them that Mr Allaway, on his motorcycle, was knocked down and killed on the A65 near settle in North Yorkshire.
“The drink driver was on the wrong side of the road,” said Lorraine. “He hit Bob and killed him instantly.”
Lorraine had been waiting for her husband to arrive and, when her nephew told her there had been a motorbike accident, she knew instantly something was wrong.
“My world spun,” she said. “I found my phone and I called and called. There was no answer. I decided to drive down.
And yes, it was my Bob. “I couldn’t understand why the police wouldn’t let me go to him. They had to let me know he was dead. My world just flew apart.
“The guy was absolutely slaughtered. And he had his daughter in the car.”
Mr Allaway, from Long Preston, was 46 when he died. He left behind five children and seven grandchildren. The couple had been married 10 years.
“Bob was my soulmate,” said Lorraine. “it took me a long time to find him. And then we were together for 10 years before we got married. We were absolutely certain we wanted to spend the rest of our lives together. Unfortunately, that was only 10 years.”
Andrew Crook, 48, of swinnow, Leeds, was on the wrong side of the road in his Nissan Note when he hit Mr Allaway in October last year. He was almost two-and-a-half times the drink drive limit. He was jailed in May this year for five years and eight months after admitting causing Mr Allaway’s death by driving without due care and attention.
With concessions to his sentence; for pleading guilty and potentially for good behaviour, he could be home on license in half that time.
“I know any changes to the law will not affect the sentence this man has received but I hope that it will save other families the distress caused by such lenient sentences,” said Lorraine, who delivered a petition with more than 100,000 signatures to Parliament last month.
“The guy who killed my husband was drunk. He was twoand-a-half times over the limit. And he had his daughter in the car.
“These cases should be manslaughter. They are taking a life. When you get into a vehicle, drunk or using a mobile phone, You are doing it on purpose. I know this. Every driver knows this. You do not drink and drive. They need a proper sentence. For those left behind, it’s a life sentence.”
Lorraine firmly believes those who kill behind the wheel should be banned from the road for life, and face a minimum of 10 years in jail.
“A driving license isn’t a God given right - but some people seem to think it is,” she said.
“It’s an absolute disgrace. there are so many like me, who do not feel they have got justice.
“For the rest of my life I will serve this sentence. I’m going to be there, in my house, without my husband. Sat at home, alone. My family have their own lives.
My children have their own lives. They shouldn’t be looking after me.
“i’m getting through. Christmas, birthdays, anniversaries. We’ve done a bench for him, planted a tree. But it’s the little things that floor me. It just seems
to go on and on.
“That person can go home. Have Christmas with their family. Go out to the pub. And possibly go on to do it again. I want to stop that.
“What can I do? I fight it, as best I can, in the hope that we can change the law.”
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Five people killed every day on the roads
Every day an average of five people are killed on Britain’s roads, all too often in sudden and traumatic circumstances which families liken to losing a loved one to violence.
Last year the number of people dying on Britain’s roads rose for the first time in recent years. Provisional figures published by the Department for Transport
reported 1,780 deaths - a rise of 49 on 2014.
In cases where such deaths arise from an act of criminality, the consequences are all the more devastating.
An investigation by the YEP and its sister titles has spoken to numerous families coping with the loss of loved one to an act of dangerous driving.
The vast majority told this investigation that sentencing is often too lenient and they feel let down by failures across the system of sanctions, including a
decline in the use and length of driving bans and an apparent willingness of prosecutors
to accept a lesser charge of causing death by careless driving.
While 116 people have been convicted of causing death dangerous driving in West Yorkshire in the past decade, just a third, 41, were sentenced to more than five years in prison.
Even those who were given lengthy sentences see them halved under the current law which lets perpetrators out early on licence.
A long-delayed consultation on a review of sentencing in dangerous driving cases has been promised by ministers to
begin by the end of the year.
The review was first promised in 2014 and former Cabinet minister last night accused current ministers of “foot-dragging” over the issue.