Stop the Speeders: Heartbroken father backs campaign after death of daughter

‘We have to go back to the drawing board'.

Gerard McManus, whose daughter Rebecca was killed last year
Gerard McManus, whose daughter Rebecca was killed last year

These are the words of a father of a student killed by a speeding motorist, who has backed the Express & Star's call for tougher sentences.

Gerard McManus’s 21-year-old daughter Rebecca was waiting at a bus stop when Sukvinder Mannan, who was driving at 101mph, hit and killed her.

The fatal crash in Hagley Road West in Bearwood resulted in 34-year-old Mannan, from Halesowen, being jailed for eight years after admitting causing death by dangerous driving.

The sentence four years ago has been followed by more than a handful of other death by dangerous driving convictions - none of which have resulted in the maximum 14-year sentence.

This week Craig Edwards and Kade Scrivens were jailed for less than eight years each for killing behind the wheel.

Kade Scrivens

Edwards was driving at a speed almost twice the 30 mph limit when he hit grandfather John Hickinbottom in Walsall last June. He was also over the drink drive limit.

The 29-year-old, of Cumberland Road, Walsall, received a seven-year jail sentence after admitting causing death by dangerous driving, failing to stop at the scene and drink driving.

Meanwhile Mr Hickinbottom’s family who were in court to watch the proceedings, must attempt to move on without the 74-year-old, of Lilac Grove, Bentley.

Granddaughter Jade told the court: “It felt like my world was falling apart without him.”

And on the same day of the sentencing this week, Scrivens, 24, of Booth Street, Handsworth, was given a seven-and-a-half year sentence for killing 59-year-old Nicholas Harrison.

The 59-year-old victim was cycling on Midland Road in Darlaston when Scrivens lost control at a roundabout while speeding and hit him on the opposite side of the road on November 22.

Scrivens, who admitted causing death by dangerous driving, then fled the scene to sober up, according to Judge Simon Ward.

In a victim impact statement read out in court, Mr Harrison’s brother, Christopher, 70, said his death ‘has affected me greatly’.

The two cases have triggered a campaign by the Express & Star for tougher sentences on killer drivers.

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It has been supported Mr McManus, 54, of Balsall Common.

He is campaigning for killer drivers to be banned from the roads for life.

He also says judges should be stricter with their sentences and people need to be educated on the dangers of driving dangerously.

The Ministry of Justice is proposing for the maximum sentence for causing death by dangerous driving to go up from 14 years’ prison to life. But the plan has yet to go before Parliament.

Mr McManus said: “Mr Mannan will get his freedom shortly and be in his early 30s, he will still have a long life ahead of him.

Rebecca McManus

“He should not be allowed to go behind the wheel again.

“I know the maximum sentences will also go up, but that also needs to be looked at in terms of what the judges hand out.

“The problem we have is by the time the case gets to the court it is too late, someone has died.

“People who view it as socially acceptable need to realise it is socially unacceptable.

“We have to go back to the drawing board.” Mr McManus is starting a charity called Collision and Reducing Death on our Roads. He aims to reach out to young drivers, encouraging them to drive safely on the roads.

Eddie Hughes, Walsall North MP, is also backing the Express & Star’s campaign. He says he will raise the issue in Parliament.

He said: “People need to realise that when they are driving their car and are texting, speeding, drinking that the vehicle has the potential to be a lethal weapon.

“Tougher sentences need to be put out to show that.”

John Hickinbottom

Other sentences given out over the past two years for death by dangerous driving include uninsured driver Jake Nelson, who was given a suspended detention sentence after hitting 39-year-old Neil Perry as he crossed the road in West Bromwich last year.

Nelson, 19, of Hales Road in Wednesbury, was driving 57mph in a 30mph zone.

Joseph Chance, 25, of Murcroft Road, Stourbridge, and Dylan Stringer, 24, Wychbury Road, Stourbridge, were jailed for eight and six years respectively after killing young mother Nadine Foster while racing at speeds of almost 80mph.

Former Dudley College student Miss Foster, 18, was a front seat passenger in a Ford Focus, driven by boyfriend Stringer, when it hit a wall in Hagley Road, Stourbridge. She died in hospital four days after last April’s tragedy, leaving behind her then five-month-old son.

Hospital porter Joshua Harvey was jailed for two years after admitting causing the death of Sean Williams in Wolverhampton by careless driving.

The 23-year-old, of Griffiths Drive, Ashmore Park, was undercutting another car when the car he was driving at 48mph in a 30 zone in Lakefield Road, Wednesfield, hit the boy on December 29, just over a year ago.

An online campaign has since been launched to have Harvey’s sentence extended. Figures from the Department of Transport show 54 people died on the roads in the West Midlands in the 12 months up to October 27.

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