Simon MacMichael March 15 2017
A motorist jailed for killing a cyclist in a hit-and-run crash will have his driving ban start from the date he was sentenced rather than the date of his eventual release from prison following a Court of Appeal decision.
Luke Paul Headech, aged 26, was jailed for a total of seven years at Lewes Crown Court in May last year after being convicted of offences including causing the death by dangerous driving of cyclist Jamie Murray, 23, on 1 January 2015.
He was also banned from driving for five years, starting on the day of his release from prison.
Inspector Phil Duffy of the Surrey and Sussex Roads Policing Unit said at the time that he welcomed the sentence, including the driving ban, pointing out that it would not begin “until he leaves prison and he will also have to take an extended retest if he wants to drive again.”
That turns out not to be the case, however, with the Court of Appeal this week ruling that the ban should start from the date Headech was sentenced, meaning that part if not all of it will elapse while he is in prison.
Judge Sir John Saunders, one of the three judges sitting on the appeal, said: “We reduce the length of disqualification to run from the date of sentence.”
He explained that the court had to allow the appeal since a change in the law that provides that where a custodial sentence is imposed, any driving ban commences on the day of release, was passed into law after the date of the fatal crash in this case.
The Hastings Observer says that the appeal was lodged by a senior judge after the question had been raised as to when the ban should start.
Road safety campaigners had campaigned for the law to be changed for a number of years, but it was only on 13 April 2015 – four and a half months after Mr Murray was killed – that the new provisions took effect.
The law had already been revised by the time Headech was sentenced last year, but the Court of Appeal decision means that it only applies where a driving ban is imposed alongside a custodial sentence relating to an offence taking place on or after the date the change took effect.
Lewes Crown Court heard last year that Mr Murray sustained fatal injuries after being thrown 50 metres along the Grand Parade in St Leonards, East Sussex, in the early hours of New Year’s Day 2015.