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Amy Hofmeister death: Jail term doubled for fatal car chase driver Leanne Burnell

By Western Daily Press  |  Posted: October 25, 2012

  • Leanne Burnell’s sentence has been increased for her role in the death of Amy Hofmeister

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A driver involved in a high-speed car chase in Somerset which killed a 13-year-old girl has had her sentence more than doubled by appeal judges.

Leanne Burnell, 21, was jailed for 18 months for causing the death of Amy Hofmeister by dangerous driving after encouraging a chase through Taunton.

But at the Court of Appeal in London yesterday, Burnell’s sentence was increased to three-and-a-half years.

Sir John Thomas said the original sentence had been “unduly lenient”. Amy died during a chase between Burnell and her ex-boyfriend Leonard Jones, 42, in June 2011. Her family had appealed to have Burnell’s sentence increased.

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They were racing in separate cars through Taunton town centre at more than twice the 30mph speed limit after leaving a pub. Jones struck the schoolgirl, who was out cycling with a friend, after overtaking Burnell. His car overturned and mounted the pavement.

He admitted causing death by dangerous driving and was jailed for seven years. Burnell denied the same charge, but was found guilty and handed an 18-month jail sentence at Taunton Crown Court.

But the Court of Appeal judges agreed with Attorney General Dominic Grieve that the sentence had been “unduly lenient”.

Sir John, announcing the decision of the court, said: “There can be little doubt that the underlying cause of what happened was her [Burnell’s] decision to begin the chase.”

He said that “although the actual final cause of this terrible tragedy was that of Mr Jones in overtaking in the way he did” the “significant underlying cause was that of the offender”.

The judge said the court had taken into account mitigating factors, including the fact that Burnell had “no relevant previous convictions” and that she was “relatively young” – aged 19 at the time of the offence.

Sir John added: “We consider that the sentence passed was unduly lenient.”

Chief Superintendent Daimon Tilley, of Avon and Somerset police, said: “We are pleased with the outcome of this appeal.

“We hope the sentencing of Jones and Burnell brings some comfort to Amy’s family. Amy’s death was totally unnecessary. She was doing everything right wearing reflective clothing, a helmet and cycling on a proper cycle path.”

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  • StanStill  |  October 25 2012, 8:41PM

    It doesn't matter if it was intentional, or that it might never happen again, it has happened, through her selfishness, and inconsiderate behaviour, she caused an innocent 13 year old to die. I hope she has a real tough time of it inside, to teach her a lesson. People like her have no integrity, and only care about themselves.

  • Charlespk  |  October 25 2012, 11:03AM

    So we give this 'pond life' (your words) and others severe sentences for causing a very bad thing to happen that was NOT intentional, and almost certainly won't be repeated. . But we release all the 'revolving door' career criminals because the prisons are too overcrowded so says Ken Clarke and all the wet liberals. . No wonder this country has become a "lock everything up if you don't want is stolen" society! Make them graft (work) and the experience so unpleasant that they won't ever want to return.

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  • StanStill  |  October 25 2012, 10:22AM

    This bit of Pondlife should have got five years.

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  • StanStill  |  October 25 2012, 10:21AM

    Good, this Pondlife deserved more than getting it doubled, she should have got the same as her boy-friend.

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