PRESS RELEASE

18th July 2013 - Daily Mirror Press Release Article

PRESS RELEASE from Brake, the road safety charity
Embargoed until 00:01hrs on Wednesday 3 July 2013
Contact Ellen Booth on 01484 550067, out of hours: 07976 069159 e: news@brake.org.uk

15 year old girl’s 13,000 strong petition to end horror of drink driving handed to Downing Street

15 year old Rebecca Still from Otley, whose brother Jamie Still was run over and killed age 16 by a drink driver, has gathered more than 13,000 signatures calling for justice for families bereaved or injured by drink drivers, supported by Brake, the road safety charity. Jamie was walking back from a local take-away with friends on New Year's Eve 2010 when drink driver Max McRae mounted the pavement and ended Jamie's life. His sister set up The Jamie Still Campaign, calling for tougher laws, longer sentences for drink drivers, and for drivers who kill to not be allowed to continue driving while awaiting trial.

Today Rebecca, alongside mum Karen Strong and granddad Peter Strong, are handing the petition to Downing Street. Their MP Greg Mulholland, who has supported the campaign from the start, will be making a speech on the floor of the House, urging the government to listen to their calls.

Rebecca was just 13 years old when she created the campaign. She had been outraged that her brother’s killer was allowed to keep his licence and continue to drive in the eight month run up to his trial. 

Rebecca’s mother Karen Strong got in touch with local MP Greg Mulholland. Working alongside the family, he asked the Prime Minister to change the law so drivers charged with death by dangerous or careless driving have their driving licence suspended as a bail condition, to which David Cameron responded by agreeing it was an issue for consideration. Greg took Rebecca, Karen and Peter to meet with Justice Minister Crispin Blunt and secured a debate in parliament to persuade the government to include provisions on bail conditions for those charged with dangerous or careless driving. The Minister responded by saying guidance for courts was being reviewed and would be published for consultation later in the year. He said he expected it will recommend a no-drive bail condition if a defendant is considered a danger to other road users.

Meanwhile the Strong family have rallied widespread support for Rebecca’s petition, and calling for a range of measures to tackle drink driving and bring justice for those bereaved and injured, attending numerous events and appearing on local and national TV to urge support.  

Visit the campaign webpage www.jamiestillcampaign.co.uk. Visit the online version of the petition (many more signatures were collected on paper, bringing the total signatures to 13,000).

Brake has been supporting their calls, while also working to raise awareness of the dangers of driving on any amount of alcohol, and calling for zero tolerance on drink driving, through its ‘not a drop’ campaign. Read more about Brake’s campaigns on drink driving and justice for road crash victims.

Jamie’s mum, Karen Strong, said: “Rebecca’s determination has been incredible. We are all so proud of her. She started this campaign by herself, from her bedroom, and we only found out when she told us she was getting so much support on the internet. We knew immediately we had to do everything we could to support her. Jamie’s death has been absolutely devastating for all of us. Everyone thinks their child is special, but Jamie really was. He was gentle and kind, and as perfect a son as any mum could hope for. We all miss him terribly, including Rebecca, but we’re all determined his death won’t be in vain. The campaign doesn’t end here. We want to know the government will get tough with drink drivers, because no other family should have to go what we’ve been through.”  

Karen and Rebecca are available for interview. To arrange please call Ellen Booth, Brake, on 01484 550067 or email news@brake.org.uk.

Julie Townsend, deputy chief executive, Brake, the road safety charity, said: “Rebecca and her family are to be commended for their courageous campaigning to end the horror of drink driving and bring justice to devastated families. Drink driving remains one of the main causes of road death and injury. Every year thousands of people are killed or injured by drivers who have selfishly got behind the wheel after drinking, so it’s an issue we should all be desperately concerned about and fighting to stamp out. Our message to drivers is that even one drink is too much if you’re driving: research is clear that even very small amounts of alcohol dramatically impair driving. We’re also right behind the Strongs and their calls for government action: we need tougher penalties and laws, including a zero tolerance drink drive limit, to make it clear it’s none for the road and any level of drink driving won’t be tolerated.”

Greg Mulholland MP for Leeds North West, said: "The unnecessary and tragic death of Jamie Still was something that deeply affected the whole community in Otley, as well as being heart-breaking for his family and friends. Their loss has been made even more difficult by the fact that the person who killed him, who was more than twice over the drink driving limit and driving recklessly, was allowed to continue driving for eight months afterwards. I am proud to be able to accompany Jamie’s family to Downing Street to present Rebecca’s petition as well as then presenting the petition to the House of Commons later in the day.”

Facts about drink driving
In 2011, one in seven road deaths in Great Britain involved drink drivers over the current 80mg limit. 280 deaths, 1,290 serious injuries and 8,430 slight injuries occurred when someone was driving over the drink drive limit [1]. Many more drink-drive crashes are caused by drivers who only have small amounts of alcohol in their blood. A further estimated 65 road deaths per year are caused by drivers who are under the drink-drive limit, but who have a significant amount of alcohol in their blood over 50mg [2].

Research shows even very small amounts of alcohol, well under the current UK limit, significantly increase reaction times and therefore your risk of crashing [3]. With a level of 20-50mg of alcohol per 100ml blood, drivers have at least a three times greater risk of dying in a crash than those with no alcohol in their blood. This increases to at least six times with an alcohol level of 50-80mg, and 11 times with 80-100mg [4].

Brake
Brake is an independent road safety charity. Brake exists to stop the five deaths and 63 serious injuries that happen on UK roads every day and to care for families bereaved and seriously injured in road crashes. Brake runs awareness-raising campaigns, community education programmes, events such as Road Safety Week (18-24 November 2013), and a Fleet Safety Forum, providing advice to companies. Brake’s support division cares for road crash victims through a helpline and other services.

Road crashes are not accidents; they are devastating and preventable events, not chance mishaps. Calling them accidents undermines work to make roads safer, and can cause insult to families whose lives have been torn apart by needless casualties.

End notes:
[1] Reported Road Casualties in Great Britain: 2011 provisional estimates for accidents involving illegal alcohol levels, DfT, 2012

[2] Reducing the BAC limit to 50mg – what can we expect to gain?, Professor Richard E Allsop, Centre for Transport Studies University College London (PACTS, 2005)

[3] The relationship between serious injury and blood alcohol concentration (BAC) in fatal motor vehicle accidents: BAC = 0.01% (10mg alcohol) is associated with significantly more dangerous accidents than BAC = 0.00%, University of California at San Diego, 2011

[4] Report of the Review of Drink and Drug Driving Law, Sir Peter North, 2010

 



 Friday 2nd March 2012

JAMIE STILL'S FAMILY NAME CAMPAIGN WEBSITE IN HIS MEMORY

A family fighting for a change in the law has launched a website named after the son and brother they lost because of a drink driver.

Otley boy Jamie Still, 16, a student at St Mary’s School, Menston, died after being struck by a car on Boroughgate, Otley, on New Year's Eve, 2010. The driver, Arthington man Max McRae, was found to have been twice over the drink-drive limit and speeding.

But McRae, now serving a four-year jail term, was allowed to keep his driving licence for eight months after the fatal accident.

That is a situation Jamie’s sister, Rebecca Still, and mother, Karen Strong, are determined to change. Rebecca, 13, has started a petition calling on the Government to toughen the law and she and Karen also appeared on television to explain their campaign.

Now they have created a website, www.jamiestillcampaign.co.uk, to make it easier for people to sign the petition and find out more. It says: “Anyone charged with drinking and driving should immediately have their licence removed.”

They hope to generate enough interest to get 100,000 signatures, which would oblige the Government to debate the issue.

Local MP Greg Mulholland (Lib Dem, Leeds North West), supporting the campaign, has called for the law to be changed so that licences are suspended as a bail condition in cases involving death by dangerous or careless driving, or where the driver has been found to have been twice or more over the legal limit.

Prime Minister David Cameron, responding to a question from Mr Mulholland in the House of Commons, has promised to “consider” the change.


Jamie's Mum Karen and Sister Rebecca

Published on Thursday 2 February 2012 09:28


SUSPECTED drink drivers could lose their licence when they are charged after David Cameron agreed to consider changing the rules following a campaign by the family of a West Yorkshire teenager.

The Prime Minister said his “heart goes out” to the family of 16-year-old Jamie Still, from Otley, who was killed after being knocked down by a speeding driver who was two times the legal drink-drive limit.

Jamie’s family have mounted a campaign attempting to close the legal loophole that left driver Max McRae free to get back behind the wheel for another eight months while he was on bail.

McRae was later jailed for four years but 3,000 people have signed a petition calling for “zero tolerance” for drink drivers, demanding that they lose their licence immediately.

Urged by Leeds North West Liberal Democrat MP Greg Mulholland to meet the family, Mr Cameron said: “My heart goes out to your constituents for the loss that they have suffered.

“You raise a very important point about what happens in cases like these and what you can and cannot do with bail conditions. I will certainly go away and look at that, it may well be this is something we can consider alongside the recommendations we are considering about drug-related driving.”

Jamie, a keen sportsman, was killed in Otley on New Year’s Eve 2010 as he walked back from a takeaway with friends. He was struck by a car driven by McRae, 21, of Warren Lane, Arthington, Leeds, who was travelling at around 50mph on a 30mph road.

McRae had been drinking in several pubs with a friend and his girlfriend prior to the accident and when he was breathalysed by police he gave a reading of 63mg per 100ml of blood, the legal limit for driving being 35mg per 100ml.

Last year he was jailed for four years for causing death by careless driving while unfit through drink and banned from driving for five years. Jamie’s mother Karen Strong insists the crime should have been treated as manslaughter and is furious that he was free to continue driving for eight months after the offence.

Currently, judges and magistrates have discretionary powers to suspend a driving licence if they believe that a person charged with drink-driving is deemed to be a significant danger to the public, but the campaign calls for it to be a condition of bail in these cases.

Mrs Strong said she was “encouraged” by the Prime Minister’s intervention but added: “We can’t stop the petition yet, We have got a long way to go and we can’t let the Government back down now.”

Mr Mulholland said: “The unnecessary and tragic death of Jamie Still was something that deeply affected the whole community in Otley, as well as being heartbreaking for his family and friends.

“Their loss has been made even more difficult by the fact that the person who killed him, who was more than twice over the drink driving limit and driving recklessly, was allowed to continue driving for eight months afterwards. This is deeply distressing for the family, as well as quite grotesque and flies in the face of common sense.

“Someone whose dangerous or careless driving has caused someone’s death should have their driving licence suspended automatically as a condition of bail.”

Thursday 26th January 2012

The fight for a change in the drink-drive laws in the wake of the death of 16-year-old Jamie Still is being stepped up.

The campaign is being taken up by Jamie’s sister Rebecca, aged 13, who has started a petition calling for zero tolerance in the UK.

Jamie lost his life on New Year’s Eve 2010, when he was hit by a car driven by someone who was twice over the legal alcohol limit and speeding.

The family was outraged and rightly so, after learning that the driver was allowed to keep his licence for eight months after the incident.

It seems that because he wasn’t charged with being over the drink-drive limit, but causing death by careless driving, his licence wasn’t taken away.

That may be the law. If so, it needs changing.

Despite earlier comments and pleas from the family and other supporters, precious little seems to have been done in the corridors of power.

The silence is deafening.

Let us look at the words of Rebecca.

She says: “When my brother was 16 he was knocked down and killed by a drink-driver.

“He was on the pavement and his friends had to watch.”

She wants zero tolerence for drink-drivers, so they lose their driving licence straight away, and for such offenders to go to prison for longer.

There needs to be a much stronger fear factor to deter drink and drug drivers from getting behind the wheel.

It is now time for people power to take up this cause. We would urge as many people as possible to sign Rebecca’s petition and demand action. It is a just cause and worth fighting for.

Wednesday 25th January 2012

Sister of drink-drive victim Jamie Still wants law change

A 13-year-old girl whose brother was killed by a drink-driver is calling on the government to toughen the law on people charged with the offence.

Rebecca Still, from Otley, West Yorkshire, said it was wrong that her brother Jamie's killer could go on driving for months before his trial.

She said anyone charged with drinking and driving should immediately have their licence taken away from them.

Rebecca has set up an online petition calling for the law to be changed.Law is 'stupid'

She said: "If the law is stricter, hopefully no-one will get into a car while drinking.

"No-one else will have to lose a friend, a brother or a son."

Rebecca's brother, Jamie, 16, died in Otley on New Year's Eve 2010 after being hit by a car driven by Max McRae.

McRae, 21, of Warren Lane, Arthington, Leeds, was almost twice the legal alcohol limit and was jailed for four years in September 2011.

The 13-year-old said the law as it stood was "stupid" and she hoped to collect 100,000 signatures on her e-petition which could spark a debate in Parliament.

Karen Strong, Rebecca's mother, said she was "absolutely gobsmacked" by her daughter's efforts.

Mrs Strong said it was vital the law was changed.MP's support

"If he [McRae] had been stopped for drink-driving on New Year's Eve he would have lost his driving licence straight away," she said.

"Because he killed someone it took longer to go to court and therefore he was at liberty to drive."

Mrs Strong's local MP Liberal Democrat Greg Mulholland said he supported the aims of the online petition.

"In the case of this particular kind of serious offence, where someone has lost their life through drink-driving or driving under the influence of drugs, it frankly seems common sense that they should not be allowed to drive until the case has been heard," he said.
Mrs Strong's local MP Liberal Democrat Greg Mulholland said he supported the aims of the online petition.


Friday 9 September 2011

THE mother of a teenager who died when a speeding drink- driver knocked him down on New Year’s Eve said yesterday the crime should have been treated as manslaughter.

Devastated Karen Strong, mother of 16-year-old Jamie Still, said the four-year sentence given to Max McRae could not compensate for the life sentence she had been left with.

A court heard yesterday that McRae, 21, who was the nearly twice the legal limit, hit bright schoolboy Jamie as he walked back from a takeaway with friends last New Year’s Eve.

Popular Jamie had been attending a family party with three friends when they decided to head out to a nearby Chinese takeaway to pick up some prawn crackers at about 8.50pm.

It was as they were walking back that McRae, who was travelling at around 50mph on a 30mph road, hit the keen sportsman as he tried to cross the road.

The court heard that McRae was driving a Vauxhall Corsa that had an a filter fitted to make the car sound “a bit more racy” and had been drinking in several pubs with a friend and his girlfriend prior to the accident.

When interviewed by police he told them that he had consumed five pints and a shot called a squashed frog before he and his friend, Matthew Evans, went to the car park of a garden centre to perform handbrake turns.

His girlfriend at the time had been dropped off earlier and became concerned when she phoned McRae at about 8.30pm and found out he was driving.

Leeds Crown Court heard that when she rang him at 9.02 pm he told her had just knocked someone down.

Less than three hours later Jamie, of Otley, was pronounced dead.

His mother had been contacted within minutes of the tragic accident and arrived to see her son being treated by ambulance staff.

Michael Smith, prosecuting, said: “She followed her son to the hospital and was with him when he died.

“Not surprisingly she describes her life as having been shattered by the death of her son. That loss has been felt by his sister and all other members of his family.”

Death was from severe head and chest injuries after Jamie was hit with such force that he was hurled into some metal sheeting surrounding renovation works to a nearby church.

When McRae was breathalysed by police he gave a reading of 63mg per 100ml of blood, the legal limit for driving being 35mg per 100ml.

Passing sentence, Judge Jennifer Kershaw QC said the speeding and the warnings he ignored from his girlfriend had to be taken into account.

“Further and unfortunately the defendant had been drinking that evening.

Plainly he decided to ignore the advice his girlfriend was giving him,” she said.

McRae, of Arthington, pleaded guilty to death by careless driving while unfit through drink in August and was handed an interim driving disqualification then.

Accounts manager Mrs Strong, 37, voiced the family’s concerns after the sentence. She said after the case: “Until a few week ago McRae remained at liberty to continue to drive.

“Not only is this totally disrespectful to Jamie, it is agony to bear for his family and friends.

“Why does the law allow offenders such as McRae the right to continue performing the activities that led to someone’s death?

“Please can we change this anomaly in the law and show some respect and feeling for victims and not perpetrators.”

She added: “It will never be just, I have a life sentence and he got four years.”

McRae was also disqualified from driving for five years