Crash victim’s family face wait over challenge to killer driver’s sentence
The family of a teenage girl killed in a car crash face a wait to discover whether the drink and drug driver jailed for causing her death will have his prison sentence increased by the Court of Appeal.
Keilan Roberts pleaded guilty to four charges relating to the death of Chloe Hayman, 17, who was a passenger in his car in the early hours of July 24 last year.
The 22-year-old had consumed alcohol, cocaine, ketamine and ecstasy before getting behind the wheel of his Skoda Octavia following a night out in Pontypridd, south Wales.
In June, a judge at Cardiff Crown Court jailed Roberts for three years and nine months and banned him from driving for 10 years.
But at a Court of Appeal hearing in London on Thursday, the Attorney General’s Office (AGO) challenged the sentence as being “unduly lenient”.
Lord Justice Popplewell, sitting with Mr Justice Lavender and Mr Justice Bryan, said they hoped to give their written decision “within the next few days”.
He told members of Chloe’s family and friends following the hearing in court and via video-link, that “whatever the outcome of the hearing” the judges were “very conscious no sentence can make up for the grievous loss of Chloe’s life”.
Cardiff Crown Court was told that Roberts, of Rhymney, had not met Chloe before the evening of the crash and offered to take her to her home in Tonypandy after arguing with his girlfriend.
Roberts lost control of his car in the village of Fochriw, with the collision resulting in fatal chest injuries to Chloe who died at the scene.
At Thursday’s hearing, Philip McGhee, for the AGO, said sentencing judge David Wynn Morgan had made an “insufficient” increase in the jail term handed to Roberts to reflect the “gravity” of his offending.
Roberts, who joined the hearing via video-link from HMP Parc in Bridgend, south Wales, pleaded guilty to four counts of causing death by careless driving while under the influence, with each count reflecting the substances he had taken.
Judge Morgan said in June that his sentencing of Roberts was within guidelines but acknowledged it may seem “inadequate”.
“It is inadequate for the simple reason that no sentence can have the effect of restoring Chloe Hayman to her loved ones,” he added.
In written arguments for Thursday’s hearing, the AGO said the judge’s approach to sentencing “did not properly reflect the aggravating factors”.
These included Roberts driving with “two dangerously defective rear tyres”, drinking alcohol after the collision “in an attempt to frustrate the breathalyser process” and failing “to have any regard to the warnings or concerns expressed by others about his behaviour”.
The AGO also said the judge had “insufficiently” adjusted the sentence to take account of the offender’s levels of intoxication which “were substantially in excess of the specified limit in respect of each of the three controlled drugs”.
The AGO document concluded that “the sentence was not just and proportionate to the overall seriousness of the offending”.
Jeffrey Jones, representing Roberts, said that the sentence passed was “proportionate” with the judge “significantly” increasing it “to reflect all the drugs”.
The lawyer added: “The effect of this crime clearly is going to be devastating to Chloe’s family. This offender will carry the memory of what he’s done for a very long time and his remorse is genuine.”
At sentencing, the court was told that Roberts, who had worked in plumbing and had a history of drug and alcohol misuse, had no previous convictions and had experienced a “fractured and sad childhood”.
Chloe’s mother Danielle O’Halloran, who attended Thursday’s hearing, previously said in a victim personal statement that her daughter’s death had left her “utterly broken”.
“I thought time was meant to heal but this isn’t the case when you lose a child. If anything, it hurts more and more each day,” she said.
Chloe’s stepmother Alix Hayman described Chloe in her statement as a “fiercely loyal” teenager who “lived and loved life”, telling Roberts that he had “torn this family apart”.
She said the family’s loss was “like living your worst nightmare daily”.
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