Published: 00:01, 12 August 2017 |
Jamie Burchell-Reeves, 23, was jailed for four-and-a-half years and given a five-and-a-quarter-year driving ban at Woolwich Crown Court for his part in a hit-and-run that killed Liam Rogerson on Christmas Eve last year.
He was at the wheel of his girlfriend's Vauxhall Corsa at the time, despite having only had seven driving lessons, and drove through a red light as his 28-year-old victim made his way over Crossways Boulevard in Greenhithe.
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But Burchell-Reeves will likely be out of prison in just over two years, a reality that Mr Rogerson's grieving family feel makes a mockery of the justice system.
Sister Faye, 24, who Mr Rogerson was on the way to visit from the Campanile Hotel he had checked into just up the road, said: “I really hoped it would be longer because as it stands he’s going to get out of prison at the same age Liam was.
“But he will be able to continue his life and Liam can’t.
“He gets another chance afterwards and I don’t think he deserves that chance.
“Nothing anyone says or does is going to bring Liam back, but it would have given some closure knowing that he was serving the correct sentence.”
Ms Rogerson, who lives with fiancee Chris Rose in Charles Street, very close to where her brother died, was also unhappy with the sentencing of Burchell-Reeves’ girlfriend earlier this year.
Sophie Jane Clarke, of Medway Road, Crayford, was charged with dangerous driving and allowing her boyfriend to use the car without a licence or insurance.
The 20-year-old pleaded guilty and was given an eight-week sentence, suspended for 12 months, and banned from driving for a year, during a hearing at Medway Magistrates’ Court in June.
Clarke was also given a three-month curfew, ordered to take part in a 10-day rehabilitation programme, and fined £300.
Ms Rogerson said: “She’s one of the people I see as responsible because if she hadn’t let him drive in the first place we wouldn’t have this situation.
“She should’ve been sentenced here as well to at least get some jail time.
"I still want to see what I feel is genuine remorse. They weren’t crying today because of what they’ve done, they were crying because they were realising they’re in trouble for it.”
Among the mitigation given by Burchell-Reeves for what happened was that he drove off because he was scared and did not know what to do after hitting his victim.
The court also heard he had not passed his theory test because his intelligence was hindered by difficulty at school.
Bob Rose, who will become Ms Rogerson’s father-in-law when plans for her wedding get back on track, said: “I don’t feel the mitigation was genuine.
"It was just a legal person doing their job to try and reduce their sentence and that’s the bit that I struggle with.”
Wife Vivian, who was going to host Ms Rogerson, her fiancee and two brothers for Christmas, said: “They have been brought to justice and some people go through this for years before they have any answers.
"Nothing anyone says or does is going to bring Liam back, but it would have given some closure knowing that he was serving the correct sentence" - Faye Rogerson
“But it’s a bitter pill to swallow knowing the outcome and that being all he got for this.”
Mr Rogerson’s parents, William and Sandra, were also in court to hear the verdict, having travelled down from near Sunderland, where their son also lived.
Both were disappointed by the outcome, with the latter saying that “the only people they (Burchell-Reeves and his family) are sorry for are themselves”.
In a harrowing victim statement read out in court, Mr Rogerson’s father spoke of how much he loved his son and how similar they were, with both keen engineers with a love of rock music.
After the hearing, Mrs Rogerson said: “He would do anything for anyone. He would always be there to look after Faye and Niall in times of trouble.”
Faye, who had been looking forward to spending Christmas with her brother, said he was a shy man who let his actions speak for him, saying: “He would rather he was put out than you, that it was his problem rather than your problem.
“I remember his best friend said he was very loyal and even when she moved away they spoke every day.
"He was wise beyond his years. I don’t know many people who at 17 already had a job and started their pension.”
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