25 November 2005

Tough ‘death driver’ law gets approval

Daily Ireland

Ciarán Barnes

Relatives of people killed by ‘death drivers’ in the North last night urged judges to use new legislation to crack down on car thieves.
The call was made after the first person to be charged with a tough new anti-death driving offence yesterday appeared at Belfast magistrates’ court.
Eighteen-year-old Kevin Barry Valliday, from Lady Street, in the Lower Falls area was charged with causing death by aggravated vehicle taking.
The charge followed a horrific six-car pile-up at Boucher Road last May when 17-year-old Stephen McDade was killed.
He was catapulted through the window of a car which had been stolen a short time previously from a woman at Botanic Avenue.
Valliday, who was also seriously injured in the crash, faced further charges of causing the woman grievous bodily harm and stealing her car keys. He was remanded in custody.
The new offence of aggravated vehicle taking causing death or serious injury was brought in after a high profile campaign by the group, Families Bereaved Through Car Crime (FBTCC), following a series of fatalities involving stolen cars.
Conviction carries a jail sentence of up to 14 years whereas the maximum for causing death by dangerous driving is ten years.
FBTCC spokesman Tommy Holland last night urged judges to hand out as severe a punishment as possible for aggravated vehicle taking.
He said: “In the past, judges complained of not having enough powers to give death drivers tough sentences.
“They have those powers now, so the onus is on the judiciary to enforce them.
“There is no point in having this new law, but not utilising it. Death drivers need to know that they are risking a long time in prison if they steal a car and joyride in it. There is no joy in joyriding.”

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