Drink driver standard sentence plea

A FELIXSTOWE man jailed for drink-driving called for standard sentences for offences today after being left furious at the lenient treatment of others.

By Richard Cornwell

A FELIXSTOWE man jailed for drink-driving called for standard sentences for offences today after being left furious at the lenient treatment of others.

Mark Seeley freely admits that what he did was wrong and he deserved punishment, but he was left totally shocked after being sent to prison for two months for what was his first offence of any kind.

Now he is bitter and angry at seeing other drivers – many of them caught during the police Christmas crackdown – just given fines and bans.

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One driver, Christopher Thompson appeared before magistrates in Ipswich this month for his third drink-driving conviction in less than five years.

He was nearly four times over the limit and serving a three-year ban – but was only given a community punishment of 80 hours and community rehabilitation of 18 months.

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"I just cannot see how that is right – I am not saying all these drivers should have been jailed but the law is wrong because it does not treat people fairly or equally," said Mr Seeley, 44, of Vicarage Road, Felixstowe.

"It all seems to just depend on the magistrates on the day – if they are having a bad day, you do, too.

"I was over the limit when I was caught, and I was totally in the wrong. It was my fault. I should not have been drinking and then driving – I've always said that to other people, don't drink and drive.

"It was one big mistake and I regret it every single day.

"But to then be jailed was awful. This was my first offence – I had never been in court and never had so much as a parking ticket in my life before."

Mr Seeley served a month of his two month jail sentence, given in May 2000.

The court heard he had been four times over the limit when he crashed his car after failing to give-way to an oncoming vehicle after an all-night alcohol binge.

He was also banned from driving for three years.

"I couldn't believe it when they said I would go to prison. No help for my drinking, no community service. Just jail," he said.

"I served a month in A Block in Norwich Prison and I can tell you it was not very nice at all and it has had a dreadful effect on my life.

"I went in to court and told the truth and ended up in jail when others are just given fines, and community penalties, even for their third offence! How fair is that? It's ridiculous.

"It is time there were proper sentences that everyone understands. Perhaps it should be a large fine for a first offence, short jail sentence for a second and then a long sentence for a third. I don't know. But it just seems at the moment that there is no rhyme or reason to it."

No-one at the Lord Chancellor's Department was able to comment today on the possibility of changes to the drink-drive sentences.

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