Court of appeal reviews fatal HGV accident sentence

AG Reference (146/2006) judgment 14/2/07:The Court of Appeal has left untouched the 2 1/2 year sentence for death by dangerous driving imposed on Yvan Vandermeulen, a Belgian driver, who fell asleep at his wheel on motorway, drifted onto a hard shoulder and killed a young mother, injuring her 4 year old son on the M2 on 7th September last year. The driver had driven 38 out of 47 duty hours in the previous 3 days and had had inadequate rest.An Attorney General's reference was brought - this is where unduly lenient sentences can be reviewed in serious cases. Here the Court of Appeal declined to overturn the sentence but commented that a sentence of 3 years (discounted from a starting point of 5 years for pleading guilty) could originally have been applied. The Court will only alter the sentence if there is undue leniency.

The offence of death by dangerous driving now carries a maximum sentence of 14 years' imprisonment (increased from 10 years).The brand new offence of death by careless driving introduced by the Road Safety Act 2006 will carry a maximum sentence of 5 years' imprisonment.> See also: Enforcement Agency Powers and Roadside ProhibitionsTim Ridyard is a partner and transport law solicitor at Ipswich-based Barker Gotelee Solicitors

European Commission aims to ramp up diesel tax

The European Commission plans to force up minimum diesel taxes across Europe to stop truckers filling up in the EU countries with the lowest prices.

This is to help operators across the EU compete on a level playing field, and to help the environment by stopping drivers making unnecessary journeys to get cheaper fuel.

One EC source explains: "It makes no sense for us to encourage an unnatural incentive to do extra kilometres."

There is already an EU minimum for diesel taxes, but rates vary widely between EU states.

Since 2004 the EU's minimum diesel tax has been €302/1,000lit (£202). Under the new proposals this will rise to €330 (£220) in 2010 and to €380 (£254) in 2014.