Wednesday 28 January 2015
Brake, the road safety charity
The widow of a Gloucester man mown down and killed by a disqualified motorcyclist in 2012 has received a national road safety award for her successful campaign for tougher sentences for disqualified drivers who kill and seriously injure.
Mandy Stock was presented with the Campaigner of the Year Award by road safety charity Brake at their annual reception at the Houses of Parliament last night (27 January), supported by Direct Line. The event marked the beginning of Brake’s 20th anniversary year.
Mandy’s husband, Paul Stock, then 53, was killed while walking near his home when he was hit by disqualified motorcyclist Graham Godwin. Godwin was speeding, had falsely insured his motorcycle, and was a serial offender with 12 previous convictions for driving without insurance, nine for driving while disqualified and three for drink-driving. He was sentenced to just 18 months for causing the death of Paul Stock while disqualified – the maximum the judge, who described Godwin as "an absolute menace", could give him because he pleaded guilty.
Mandy was appalled by the weakness of the sentence, and immediately started campaigning for a change in the law that would allow disqualified drivers who kill to be given more appropriate sentences, with a similar maximum to that available for dangerous driving. This echoed the view of road safety charity Brake, who argue that disqualified, unlicensed and uninsured drivers should automatically be considered ‘dangerous’ in the eyes of the law.
Mandy launched two online petitions and wrote open letters in the press, soon securing the support of her local MP, Richard Graham, who was also recognised with an award from Brake for his role in the campaign. With Richard’s help, Mandy met with both Justice Secretary Chris Grayling and Prime Minister David Cameron in 2013, and both were receptive to her campaign.
Finally, in May 2014, Chris Grayling announced that the maximum sentence for causing death by driving while disqualified will rise from two to 10 years, with a maximum of four years for causing serious injuries. The Justice Secretary also announced a wider review of driving offences, which is ongoing and has been welcomed by Brake, other campaigning families and MPs.
Brake campaigns for tougher sentences for drivers who kill and injure through its crackdown campaign, alongside higher penalties to deter risky driving behaviour, and increased traffic policing. Tweet us: @Brakecharity, #Crackdown.
Ed Morrow, campaigns officer, Brake, said: “The change in the law announced in May is a testament to the hard work and determination Mandy has shown in fighting this injustice after the tragic death of her husband. Disqualified drivers have no right to be on the road; if they kill or injure someone, it inflicts needless devastation as the result of a deliberate and illegal choice, and the penalty must reflect that. That's why tackling woefully inadequate sentences for these selfish individuals has been a cornerstone of Brake's crackdown campaign, and we are delighted to recognise the huge role Mandy has played in achieving such a positive result. We will continue to work alongside victims and their families to secure better justice for those affected by criminal driving.”
Mandy Stock said: “I am delighted to receive this award, which was totally unexpected. I am thankful for those who have helped and supported me, especially my brilliant sister, Sue. The law failed us, and it was obvious to us that the law had to change. Thankfully, the people in a position to change things listened, and steps have been taken to close a massive loophole and tackle disqualified repeat offenders like the one who killed my husband. However, we are still campaigning to increase penalties for driving while disqualified. We need to ensure these offenders are taken off the road before they kill or injure innocent victims, to make the roads safer for everyone.”
Notes for editors:
Brake is a national road safety charity that exists to stop the needless deaths and serious injuries that happen on roads every day, make streets and communities safer for everyone, and care for families bereaved and injured in road crashes. Brake promotes road safety awareness, safe and sustainable road use, and effective road safety policies. We do this through national campaigns, community education, services for road safety professionals and employers, and by coordinating the UK's flagship road safety event every November, Road Safety Week. Brake is a national, government-funded provider of support to families and individuals devastated by road death and serious injury, including through a helpline and support packs.
Brake was founded in the UK in 1995, and now has domestic operations in the UK and New Zealand, and works globally to promote action on road safety.
Road crashes are not accidents; they are devastating and preventable events, not chance mishaps. Calling them accidents undermines work to make roads safer, and can cause insult to families whose lives have been torn apart by needless casualties.
Started in 1985, Direct Line became the first UK insurance company to use the telephone as its main channel of communication. It provides motor, home, travel and pet insurance cover direct to customers by phone or on-line.
Direct Line general insurance policies are underwritten by UK Insurance Limited, Registered office: The Wharf, Neville Street, Leeds LS1 4AZ. Registered in England No 1179980. UK Insurance Limited is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority.
Direct Line and UK Insurance limited are both part of Direct Line Insurance Group plc. Customers can find out more about Direct Line products or get a quote by calling 0845 246 3761 or visiting www.directline.com .