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Family's outrage over son's death

PUBLISHED: 07:58 04 May 2002 | UPDATED: 11:52 03 March 2010

A FAMILY spoke of their outrage after the man who caused their son's death was locked up for just a handful of months.

Daniel Bowen was a passenger in his sister's Astra car when it was involved in a collision with a Peugeot driven by Thomas Bugg.

A FAMILY spoke of their outrage after the man who caused their son's death was locked up for just a handful of months.

Daniel Bowen was a passenger in his sister's Astra car when it was involved in a collision with a Peugeot driven by Thomas Bugg.

The 17-year-old from Colchester was killed in the crash and Bugg, 19, from Leavenheath, was sentenced yesterday to nine months in a young offenders' institution after admitting causing death by dangerous driving.

However, Bugg will only have to serve half his sentence in the young offenders' institution as the judge said the remainder of the term would be suspended.

Speaking after the sentencing, Daniel's sister Rachel, a 20-year-old university student, broke down in tears as she said: "The sentence was ludicrous. It will never make up for the death of my brother.

"No-one can know what it was like to see my 17-year-old brother die in front of me, while I had my fingers down his throat desperately trying to keep his airways open.

"It is not long enough. At least Thomas Bugg's family know he is going to be with them again, but I'm never going to get my brother back."

Daniel and his sister were returning from Boxted after seeing their horses when he was killed. As well as horse-riding, the teenager was a keen skier and cyclist, played the saxophone and guitar and was a fan of the rap singer Tupac Shakur.

His mother Yvonne, a 53-year-old driving instructor, also spoke last night of her distress at the sentence handed to Bugg.

"I did not particularly want to see a young man go to jail for a long time as I am sure he will suffer with the memory of the accident for the rest of his life," she said.

"But the sentence should have reflected the possibility that he was more reckless than shown in court.

"I think the court should have shown more concern for the victim rather than the loss of freedom that will be suffered by the perpetrator.

"He will never suffer like Rachel did lying next to her dying brother for 40 minutes while they were cut from the car. She wakes up in the night screaming and this is something that she will never get over."

Inspector Mark Harman, who investigated the fatal collision, said after the sentencing: "I am sure Thomas Bugg did not set out on his journey with the intention of taking a life, but his dangerous driving killed an innocent road user.

"Thomas Bugg will have to endure his sentence and live with the guilt of this dreadful act for the rest of his life.

"This death was investigated diligently by Essex Police's Stanway road policing unit and all the evidence available presented to the court.

"However, no court action can relieve the pain of Daniel Bowen's family and friends – their grief will be with them for the remainder of their lives."

Chelmsford Crown Court heard Daniel, of Westview Close, Highwoods, Colchester, died in the crash with Bugg's car on the A134 in Little Horkesley, near Colchester, just before 9pm on August 27.

A red Vauxhall Astra driven by Rachel, with Daniel in the front passenger seat, was travelling towards Colchester when it was involved in the collision with a blue Peugeot 306 driven by Bugg, of Rowans Way, Leavenheath.

The court was told Bugg had driving along Park Road towards its junction with the A134 and had thought the Astra was about 400 yards away.

Bugg had believed he could speed up and make his manoeuvre before the other car got to the junction, but the Astra had, in fact, been only 100 yards away.

Daniel, who was due to study farriery at college in Warwick later that year, was certified dead at the scene. Rachel suffered head, leg and arm injuries in the crash and was taken to Colchester General Hospital for treatment.

Judge Benjamin Pearson sentenced Bugg to nine months' in a young offenders' institution, but he would only serve half that time with the remainder suspended.

He added Bugg would be banned from driving for the next three years and would have to retake an extended driving test.

Sentencing him, Judge Pearson told Bugg: "There may be those who, looking at the sentence, ask the question 'Is that all that a life is worth?', the answer to which is 'No', but it is quite impossible to measure the worth of a life by the length of sentence.

"This was more than a mere error of judgement – drivers must understand that a vehicle driven like this can be a lethal weapon and where such driving results in a loss of life, a custodial sentence is almost inevitable."

Prior to sentencing, the court heard Bugg, who had been saving money to buy a house for him and his mother, had a clean driving licence and no previous criminal convictions.

Since their son's death, Mrs Bowen and her husband Jeff, a 60-year-old company director, of Westview Close, Colchester, have campaigned for safer driving.

His sister Rachel, a law student at the University of Kent, has also given a presentation at a road safety seminar as a survivor of a serious road accident. She has only just started to drive again after her horrific experience.


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