Derbyshire crime chief says ‘punishment should fit crime’ after concerns raised about ‘short’ sentences given to killer drivers

A Derbyshire police chief has said ‘the punishment should fit the crime’ – after concerns were raised about the length of sentences given to two killer drivers.

Tuesday, 2nd March 2021, 4:45 pm

On Friday, William Ashley, of Brackenfield Close, Grassmoor, was jailed for three years after being convicted of causing death by dangerous driving and causing serious injury by dangerous driving.

The 21-year-old was behind the wheel of an Audi when it struck Simon Catterall and his wife Ismena on Saltergate, Chesterfield, on November 30, 2019.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Derbyshire's Police and Crime Commissioner Hardyal Dhindsa, right, and the scene of the tragic collision which claimed the life of Chesterfield man Simon Catterall.
Derbyshire's Police and Crime Commissioner Hardyal Dhindsa, right, and the scene of the tragic collision which claimed the life of Chesterfield man Simon Catterall.

Simon, 36, of Enfield Road, Chesterfield, was sadly pronounced dead at the scene and Ismena suffered serious injuries.

After sentencing, Simon’s brother Adam said: “We don’t feel three years is enough – but whatever the sentence, nothing is going to bring back Simon.”

Meanwhile, John Hodgkiss, of Barlborough Road, Clowne, was jailed for eight months on Friday after being convicted of causing death by careless driving.

The 68-year-old was driving his Peugeot along Rotherham Road, Clowne, when he hit Andrew Thorpe on July 26, 2019.

Mr Thorpe, 32, suffered life-threatening injuries and was taken to hospital where he sadly died six days later.

Following the cases, Hardyal Dhindsa, Derbyshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, said drivers’ actions can ‘turn a vehicle into a lethal weapon’ and added: “The punishment should fit the crime.

“While an accident is an accident, those who choose to flout road safety laws ideally receive an appropriate and consistent sanction.

“Local people have repeatedly told me that road safety is their top priority which is why I have worked with the Chief Constable to boost our roads policing teams with the specific aim of reducing the number of people who are killed or seriously injured on our roads,” Mr Dhindsa added.

“I’m very aware of the grief and trauma such incidents cause those involved and it’s important that we do whatever we can to reduce the number of tragic incidents such as this.”

On our Facebook page, a number of people said the sentences given to Ashley and Hodgkiss were ‘too short’.

According to the Government’s website, when deciding on a sentence, the judge or magistrate will consider things like:

- The person’s age

- The seriousness of the crime

- If the person has a criminal record

- If the person pleaded guilty or not guilty

Editor’s message

In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a subscription at www.localsubsplus.co.uk or buying a paper. We stand together. Nancy Fielder, editor.