Texting death crash driver’s jail term is increased

Date: Friday 20th April 2018

A DRIVER who killed one highways worker and injured another in a horrific smash on the M6 near Tebay had his “unduly lenient” jail sentence increased by top judges.

Football agent Peter Morrison (37), The Warke, Worsley, had been driving too quickly and using his phone when he lost control of his car on the M6.

He hit 51-year-old highways officer Adam Gibb, killing him, and his colleague, Paul Holroyde, who was left with devastating injuries.

At Carlisle Crown Court in January, he was jailed for seven years for causing death and serious injury by dangerous driving. But on Thursday, after a reference to the Court of Appeal by the Attorney General, Jeremy Wright QC, the sentence was upped to nine years by senior judges.

Mr. Gibb’s wife, Julie Labbett, said afterwards: “I’m really pleased the sentence has been increased. It will never be enough, especially as he will be out after 41⁄2 years. I just hope it deters others from texting while they drive.”

Giving judgement, Lord Justice Treacy ruled that the original sentence was too short and did not reflect the seriousness of the case. The tragic smash occurred on the M6 at Roundthwaite in February, 2016. The two men were working on the road following an earlier accident.

Challenging the length of the sentence, Mr Paul Jarvis, representing the Attorney General, argued that the use of the phone by Morrison made the offence worse.

“It could properly be categorised as a gross avoidable distraction,” he told the judge, sitting with Mr Justice Julian Knowles and Judge Eleri Rees QC. That factor, when combined with “greatly excessive speed” and the “particular vulnerability” of the victims meant the sentence was too soft.

Increasing the sentence, Lord Justice Treacy said: “It seems to us that the injuries sustained by Mr Holroyde and the failure to see or have regard to very clear warning signs are significant aggravating factors. In our judgement, those aggravating factors significantly outweigh this offender’s personal mitigation and the remorse which the judge accepted he had demonstrated. A term of nine years should have been imposed after considering all relevant factors. That leads us to the conclusion that the sentence passed was unduly lenient.”