Father's disgust after driver's appeal

A FATHER today spoke of his disgust after the drink-driver who claimed his teenage daughter's life - and four others - won a two-year reduction in his jail sentence.

A FATHER today spoke of his disgust after the drink-driver who claimed his teenage daughter's life - and four others - won a two-year reduction in his jail sentence.

Ben Morphey, now 23, from Yoxford, was originally jailed for eight-and-a-half years at Ipswich Crown Court in June for the horrific crash last year.

But three judges in the Court of Appeal in London cut his jail term to six-and-a-half years.

Morphey, who lost his Army career following the crash, admitted five charges of causing death by careless driving while unfit due to drink.

Claire Stoddart, 18, her sister Jennifer, 15, and their friend Carla Took, 18, plus Simon Bonner, 40, and Kim Abbott, 41, died after two cars crashed head-on at Blythburgh, in July last year.

The three teenage girls, who lived in Lowestoft, were on their way home from a Red Hot Chili Peppers concert in Ipswich when they died.

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Mr Bonner and Ms Abbott, who were passengers in the vehicle driven by Morphey, lived in the Yoxford area.

Miss Took's father, David, spoke of his anger at the reduced sentence and the speed at which Morphey's appeal was heard.

“I'm disgusted with the judicial system and how they can reduce it so soon after the actual event. He has only been in prison for four or five months,” he said.

“It's disrespectful to the victim's families, not just us but friends as well.

“He's only going to serve three years three months, it's ridiculous. It doesn't fit the crime.

“I know we have to get on with our lives but it's all geared towards the criminal and doesn't think about the families of the victims. We have to live in parallel. I think it makes a mockery of the judicial system.

“I know they say the intention was not there for him to kill but it was irresponsible to drink and drive.”

Mr Took added: “At this time of the year with drink driving, what does this promote? It doesn't promote the right message.”

Morphey, an Army aircraft technician based at Wattisham Airfield, near Needham Market, had driven a friend's car at the end of a night out after it was decided he was the least affected by alcohol.

His sentence appeal was allowed by Lord Justice Laws, Mr Justice Lloyd Jones and Sir Michael Astill.

Morphey was present in the dock of the courtroom for the hearing.

Sir Michael, announcing the court's decision, said the facts of the case were “overwhelmingly tragic”.

He said: “We acknowledge the most tragic consequences of the appellant's careless driving.

“We understand the deep grief that this appellant's actions have caused and the anguish to so many that have lost their loved ones.”

However, the cause of the tragedy was “not a deliberate act of bad driving”, but the “total irresponsibility” of driving above the alcohol limit.

Sir Michael said the court considered that Morphey's behaviour was “properly met by a sentence of six-and-a-half years in total”.

Phil Stoddart, father of Claire and Jennifer, questioned how the sentence could change without any new evidence.

“Emotionally it hasn't really affected us that the length of sentence has been reduced because it makes no difference to our lives. The sentence could be 10 years, 20 years, it doesn't change our loss,” he said.

“The issue is when the original case was brought, a judge sentenced him to 'x' number of years and how can that change with no new evidence brought to light?

“Basically it comes down to different judge's interpretations. That's wrong. There should be a standard for drink driving and any appeal against it should be incredibly unusual.”

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