Many of you will have read of the case of Katie Hart, the 19-year-old girl from Little Paxton convicted of dangerous driving and sent to prison, following an accident on the A1 last year which resulted in the death of a time-trial cyclist.
Katie was driving within the speed limit, not on the phone, didn’t even have the radio on – but she did not see the cyclist, hit him and unfortunately killed him.
This was, in my opinion, an accident. The fact that the jury convicted Hart of causing death by dangerous driving – rather than careless driving, which she pled guilty to – is neither here nor there as far as I am concerned. The issue here is that a young girl has been sent to prison for accidentally committing a crime.
Take the case of Anna Hibben as comparison. This girl was driving unlicensed, uninsured, at night without lights, over the speed limit. She crashed and killed her 17-year-old boyfriend who was illegally supervising her behind the wheel of his car. She also claimed she was not driving, until it was proven that she was.
So here we have driving otherwise in accordance to your license, driving without insurance, speeding, and – as far as I am concerned – dangerous driving in terms of not having her lights on at night. Add attempting to pervert the course of justice (or the slightly lesser police obstruction) and you have all the making of a prison sentence, yes?
No. Hibben was given a nine-month suspended sentence and a three year ban.
Katie Hart, who has no criminal record (I can’t comment whether Hibben has a record or not as this is not noted in any report) goes to prison for (half of) 21 months for one offence.
Both accidents resulted in a death. Both girls should be treated at least the same. In fact, Hibben should be treated more harshly as she has committed not one but five offences. The jury in Hart’s case was, as far as I am concerned, wrong to convict her of dangerous driving. But following this conviction, surely a long driving ban, suspended sentence and maybe community service would have been a more appropriate punishment than jail?
Nothing will bring back either of the dead men, and of course both girls must be punished. But the inappropriateness of these sentences along with the disparity between them is, frankly, shocking.