Appeal judges rule driver who caused crash that killed sister should be jailed

A van driver spared jail after causing a crash which killed his sister has been locked up after judges ruled his original sentence was "unduly lenient".

John Bond, 32, had drug traces in his system when he drove straight over a junction in Tolleshunt Major, Essex, without giving way and ploughed into an oncoming Mercedes on January 13 last year.

His sister, Mischa Bond, 22, a passenger in the Ford van who was not wearing a seat belt, suffered a fatal head injury in the collision.

The driver of the other car, a policeman with advanced driver training, was seriously injured, unable to return to work for about six months and developed post-traumatic stress disorder.

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Bond, of Perry Road, Tiptree, near Colchester, had twice the specified limit of BZE, a cocaine metabolite, in his system and told police he had taken the drug a day earlier.

He also had small traces of cocaine, cannabis and diazepam in his bloodstream.

He admitted causing his sister's death by careless driving when unfit through drink or drugs and was handed a two-year suspended sentence at Chelmsford Crown Court in October.

On Wednesday, he was jailed for two years by a panel of three judges at the Court of Appeal in London after his sentence was referred by Solicitor General Robert Buckland.

Lawyers for Mr Buckland argued the original sentence did not reflect the serious nature of the offence or the fact he had previous motoring convictions.

Bond's legal team told the court he has suffered greatly as a result of his sister's death and has been "sobbing uncontrollably" while wandering around his home.

Lord Justice Treacy (PA)
Lord Justice Treacy (PA)

Matt Morgan, representing Bond, also said his mother Julie Bond did not want her son to go to prison.

He added: "He is living the life of a virtual hermit, he is shut up at home and hasn't returned to work. This is a man who will never forgive himself for what he has done.

"The judge reached a just and humane sentence, at the end of it all."

However, ruling that the crown court judge was wrong not to jail Bond, Lord Justice Treacy said the offence was so serious he must go to prison.

Sitting with Mr Justice Picken and Judge Rupert Mayo QC, he told the court: "We recognise the primary victim was this offender's sister and we have no doubt he bitterly regrets being the cause of her death, and the source of pain to his family."

However, the judge added: "In our view, this offence is a serious one, with the sentencing guidelines reflecting parliamentary and public disapproval of those who drive while under the influence of drink or drugs.

"We consider the sentence imposed was unduly lenient and an immediate term should be imposed."

Speaking after the hearing, Mr Buckland said: "The original sentence failed to take adequate account of the tragic loss of a young woman's life.

"I believe that this sentence of immediate imprisonment properly reflects the seriousness of Mr Bond's offending."