A two-year jail term given to a driver who caused the death of an aspiring actress from Donington is “an absolute joke”, according to a friend.
Sophie Graves (21), of Wyberton, has started an online petition calling for the man involved in a crash which claimed the life of barista (coffee bartender) Jessica Danby (19) to have his prison sentence extended.
Philip Paddington-Wheatcroft (54), of Main Road, Sibsey, near Boston, was jailed after a hearing at Lincoln Crown Court on January 20, where he admitting causing death by dangerous driving on October 1, 2015.
Jessica was riding to work at Caffe Nero in Boston when her moped was hit head-on by Paddington-Wheatcroft’s Audi Q7, after he overtook a lorry in dense fog on the A52 at Frampton Fen.
The young actress died of her injuries at Queen’s Medical Centre, Nottingham, on October 2, 2015, after a crash Sophie described as “just pointless”.
Sophie, a supermarket worker who was a friend during their time together at the former Kirton Middlecott School (now Thomas Middlecott Academy), said: “I grew up with Jess from Year 7 to 11. We did drama together in Years 10 and 11 so we got a lot closer and we became really good friends.
The driver made that decision to overtake someone else, knowing full well that the weather conditions were extremely foggy, so for me, two years in jail for him is an absolute joke and no sentence at allSophie Graves, of Wyberton
“I was at work on the day of the crash when I got a phone call from one my friends to say that Jess had been in an accident.
“It didn’t seem real because I’d talked to her only a few days earlier and I couldn’t believe it when she died.
“Jess was so young and she had her whole life in front of her, so her death in this crash was just pointless.”
Almost 250 people have signed Sophie’s petition which states that Jessica’s death was caused by Paddington-Wheatcroft’s decision to “overtake a vehicle in foggy conditions and reduced visibility”.
Sophie said: “The driver made that decision to overtake someone else, knowing full well that the weather conditions were extremely foggy.
“For me, two years in jail for him is an absolute joke and no sentence at all.”
The petition has the support of Jessica’s father, Jim Danby, who posted a message which said: “I’m still numb about all of this because the amount of punishment someone should receive for taking a life cannot simply be measured in years.
“Our family will suffer, the man who killed her will suffer and his own family will suffer, in varying degrees, for the rest of our lives.
“But if firmer punishments are not imposed, how can we hope to bring improved safety to the UK’s roads?”
The Lincolnshire Free Press contacted the Attorney General’s Office in London who confirmed that they were aware of the case, but had not yet received a request for it to be reviewed under the Unduly Lenient Sentence Scheme.
Under the scheme, anyone can ask for a Crown Court sentence to be reviewed in serious cases, such as murder, rape, robbery and causing death by dangerous driving.
A spokesman for the Attorney General’s Office said: “The case of Jessica Danby fits within the profile of cases that our lawyers can look at.
“They would look over it and consider whether the sentencing would likely be looked at for increasing at the Court of Appeal, if not enough information was given at the hearing or if the sentencing was within the judge’s guidelines.
“But there is a strict time limit of 28 days after the sentencing within which to ask for a review.”
To find the petiton, visit www.change.org and type ‘Jessica Danby’ into the search bar.