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Speading plea as fines quadruple

Wed, 11 Jun 2014 00:00:00 -0700

A MOTHER whose two-year-old son was one of eight people who died in a horrific road crash has spoken of the need for motorists to "break the habit of speeding to prevent more needless deaths".

Tracey Mohabir's comments came as the Government announced a four-fold increase in fines available to magistrates, meaning motorway speeders could be forced to pay up to £10,000.

Mrs Mohabir's son Marcus was travelling with his father Steve and two friends, Toby and Kate Beasley, when their Land Rover was hit by a speeding BMW which crashed through the central reservation on the A23 near Pycombe, Sussex, on May 16 2004.

The Beasleys were also killed, as were all five occupants, aged between 17 and 20, in the BMW. At an inquest, the coroner said the BMW was going too fast and travelling too close to the vehicle in front.

Mr Mohabir was badly injured in the crash. He suffered a crushed vertebra that left him unable to return to his job as a chef. Trapped in the wreckage, he held his dying son's hand as rescue teams battled to free them

Mrs Mohabir, from Surrey, said: "In the 10 years since the crash, Steve and I have tried to move on. But I still think constantly about the day we lost Marcus and our friends Toby and Kate. We have since had another child, Max, who has grown up without ever having known his brother. He often asks about him.

"I think about the other families a lot, and I feel incredibly sorry for all of them. The loss of life not only affects family but has a ripple effect on friends, colleagues and others who have to pick up the pieces."

She went on: "Many other families have lost loved ones on our motorways and dual carriageways since we lost Marcus, often as a result of people driving too fast and too close to other vehicles.

Under the proposed changes, the maximum in each category will increase from:

:: Level 1 - £200 to £800. Includes unauthorised cycle racing on public ways.

:: Level 2 - £500 to £2,000. Includes driving a motorcycle without a protective helmet.

:: Level 3 - £1,000 to £4,000. Includes the sale of alcohol to a drunk person or being drunk and disorderly in a public place.

:: Level 4 - £2,500 to £10,000. Includes speeding on the motorway.

Mr Wright said: "Financial penalties set at the right level can be an effective way of punishing criminals and deterring them from further offending.

"Magistrates are the cornerstone of our justice system and these changes will provide them with greater powers to deal with the day-to-day offences that impact their local communities."

The amount of fines collected reached an all-time high of £284 million at the end of 2012/13 and remains on an upward course.

AA president Edmund King said: "For the vast majority of drivers, the prospect of the existing £2,500 fine is a pretty good deterrent against excessive speeding on the motorway.

"We would not condone excessive speeding in any way but fines have to be proportionate to the offence and one has to question whether increasing the fines four-fold is proportionate, and it probably is not.

"If we had more cops in cars on the motorway that would be a much more effective deterrent."

Rupert Lipton, director of the National Motorists Action Group, said it was " disproportionate and draconian".

He said: "I think it will have a serious chilling effect. We will find motorists will be deterred from going to court where they don't believe they are guilty of an offence and there is a potential challenge."

The Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 allowed for magistrates to be given the power to impose unlimited fines for some offences but the Government is only now tabling legislation to put that into effect.

Meanwhile, Norfolk Police are urging motorcyclists not to "dice with death" after a rider was caught speeding at 134mph on the A11.

The rider, a man in his mid-20s, has been reported for offences of speeding and failing to stop at a red light following the incident on bank holiday Monday, May 26, at around 3am.

By Press Association reporters