Judge calls for reform of law in ‘hit and run’ cases

Judge Anthony Thorpe was last week forced to reduce the sentence he had imposed the week before on Kamel Kadri, an Algerian illegal immigrant, whose car collided with Callum Oakford, on New Year’s Day this year. The boy was struck as he was crossing a road in Ferring, West Sussex by a Renault driven by Kadri, who had no road tax or insurance.

Earlier in the month Kadri was sentenced by Judge Thorpe at Chichester Crown Court to a total of 24 months in jail, comprising eight months for failing to stop after an accident, driving with no insurance, licence and MOT, and 16 months for using a false passport. But the following day, the Crown Prosecution Service pointed out that the judge had made a mistake as driving offences carry a maximum six-month sentence. He will now serve a 22-month prison sentence before being deported.

Judge Thorpe told the defendants that it was “inconceivable” that Kadri did not know that the boy had been seriously injured. “The maximum penalties for offences are laid down by parliament and the courts are bound by them, so here the maximum penalty allowed by parliament for failing to stop after an accident is six months, which clearly strikes the public as inadequate, particularly in a case such as this where the accident causes the death of a young child,” he said. “In effect parliament has decided that the result of the accident, which may be a fatality, should be ignored … I make it clear that I regard the short sentence I have been limited to by the restraints of the current law is in no way commensurate with what you did.” Copies of the judge’s comments were sent on to the Home Secretary, David Blunkett.