Leeds Crash Families 'Disappointed' by Sentence

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The families of four teenagers involved in a crash caused by the dangerous driving of Thomas McMeekin have said they are "disappointed'' with his seven-and-a-half-year jail sentence.

None of the families have yet come to terms with the devastating consequences of the crash, which claimed the lives of 14-year-olds George Wharton and Rhys Baker and left two other boys with life-changing injuries.

And their lives have been "torn apart and changed forever'', Leeds Crown Court heard as McMeekin was sentenced.

Carolyn Heaton, who represented two of the families for law firm Irwin Mitchell, said after the sentencing: "Both families are relieved that Tom McMeekin, the driver of the vehicle who caused the crash, has pleaded guilty to causing death and serious injury by dangerous driving although they are disappointed with the sentence that he received today.

"They are obviously aware of the injuries that Mr McMeekin sustained but feel the sentence is low given the devastating impact his reckless driving had on the lives of four young boys and their families. Both families are still coming to terms with what has happened and it is something they will have to live with for the rest of their lives.''

During the sentencing hearing, Judge Peter Collier QC said: "Five families have been devastated and irreparably damaged ... their lives being torn apart and changed forever.''

He added: "None of them have yet come to terms with what happened on that dreadful day.''

Detective Superintendent Simon Atkinson, from West Yorkshire Police, said he hoped the conclusion of the "deeply tragic'' case would bring some closure to the families.

He said: "Thomas McMeekin's actions that day had utterly devastating consequences, the effects of which are still as acutely felt today as they were at the time.

"His dangerous driving caused the deaths of 14-year-old Rhys Baker and 14-year-old George Wharton - two teenagers in the prime of their lives. The pain caused to their families by their sudden deaths at such young ages is immeasurable and is something they have to face every day.

"His other passengers, two boys now aged 16 and 17, were critically injured and their families have been through an incredibly distressing and anxious time which continues as they both come to terms with the life-changing injuries they received.''

The detective added: "This is a deeply tragic case which starkly illustrates the appalling human consequences of dangerous driving. Sadly, too often we see incidents where deaths and serious injuries result from dangerous driving, often involving young people driving too fast and without any consideration for what might occur.''

He continued: "We hope it will serve as a reminder to others of how their behaviour at the wheel can have terrible consequences that impact on the lives of others and that they will have to live with those for the rest of their lives.''

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