England

Crash death serviceman 'got special treatment'

Image caption Mr and Mrs Hewitt died at the scene of the crash in March last year

A serviceman freed on appeal after causing a fatal crash received "preferential treatment", says the victims' daughter-in-law.

Kristian Rodgers was jailed for eight months over the Lincolnshire crash which killed Anthony and Sylvia Hewitt.

This was downgraded to a suspended term at the Court of Appeal on Friday.

Fenella Hewitt said the decision was made because he is in the RAF, but the judiciary has denied his job had any bearing on the appeal decision.

The crash happened in March last year, when Mr Hewitt, 70, and his 65-year-old wife were returning to their Nottingham home from a holiday on the Lincolnshire coast.

As 26-year-old Rodgers, from Sheffield, overtook a minibus, he collided head-on with the Hewitts' car, killing them instantly.

Earlier this month at Lincoln Crown Court, he was found guilty of causing death by careless driving, and the judge ruled a custodial term was justified because of his "bad and unnecessary" piece of driving.

But on Friday, the jail term was quashed and replaced by an eight-month sentence, suspended for 12 months, with a 100-hour unpaid work order, with judges ruling that the original sentence would "bring his RAF career to an end".

Mrs Hewitt, who is married to the couple's son Peter, said: "If he was an ordinary person, he would have been jailed. It seems like he's had preferential treatment.

"He's got absolutely no punishment. He served less than three weeks in jail. He can forget all of this and just go back to his life.

"It's like the victims have been forgotten."

She added: "At the end of the day, Tony and Sylvia were healthy and both have had relatives who have lived into their 80s. They could have lived another 10 or 15 years."

Mrs Hewitt also expressed surprise that the appeal was heard and granted just two weeks after the sentence was imposed.

The Judicial Communications Office has denied that the hearing was fast-tracked because Rodgers worked for the RAF.

A spokesperson said: "Mr Rodgers' application was received by the Court of Appeal on 12 July. This was considered by the Registrar of Criminal Appeals. Given the short sentence and having formed the view that it had some prospects of success the Registrar expedited the hearing which was heard on 23 July.

"The Registrar's decision was based on these factors, not the occupation of the defendant."

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