THE victim of an horrific road crash has backed plans for tougher sentences for motorists who cause serious injuries on the road.
Diane Bottomley, 56, suffered a catalogue of fractures and spent six weeks in a coma following a head-on crash in Meltham in February.
But despite her suffering, Paul Hinchliff, 32, was sentenced to just 18 months for the crash in which he lost control of his father’s high-performance BMW.
During the court case in August, Judge James Stewart QC, said he was constrained in passing a tougher sentence by parliament and said that the maximum sentence was “woefully inadequate”.
Yesterday however Justice Secretary, Kenneth Clarke, announced a new criminal offence will be introduced to help provide justice to the seriously injured victims of dangerous drivers.
Ellen Booth, senior campaigns officer, for the Huddersfield-based road safety charity, Brake, said: “This finally means that serious injury is recognised in the name of an offence, and this is vitally important to victims and their families.”
Mrs Bottomley, 56, who suffered injuries to her neck, breastbone, pelvis, hip, ribs, leg and arm, said: “I just wish they had brought it in sooner.
“The judge said if he could have given him longer he would have and the Government has finally recognised that.
“But we are the victims, and I am still suffering and will be for a long time after he has walked free.
“He will be able to go back to normal where as my life has changed forever.
“We’ve been told he will be out by Christmas. He will be laughing and joking as if nothing happened.
“I don’t know if I will ever fully recover. I have been given a life sentence.”
Mrs Bottomley, of Highfields Avenue Meltham, is still virtually house-bound and can only walk using a frame or crutches.
She had undergone six operations and doctors have said they do not know how long her recovery will take.
The crash happened on Huddersfield Road, when uninsured and unlicensed Hinchliff overtook another car but lost control as he pulled back in to avoid a bus.
The BMW struck the kerb before veering diagonally back out and colliding with Mrs Bottomley’s Ford Fusion.
Currently, there is no charge that specifically recognises the causing of serious injury while driving, so drivers who inflict seriously injury through reckless and irresponsible behaviour may only be charged with dangerous driving, which carries a maximum of two years in jail, or careless driving, which carries a maximum penalty of a fine and disqualification.
Under the new law, drivers can be charged with causing serious injury by dangerous driving and face up to five years in prison and an unlimited fine.