Frankie Julia Hough – “If somebody chooses to endanger life and as a result, they kill and ruin lives beyond repair. They should face the toughest sentences possible.”
The RoadPeace Fix our Broken Justice System campaign was launched earlier this year with support of Calvin Buckley and three other bereaved families, who had been failed by the justice system.
In his third blog for RoadPeace, Calvin tells us how he is determined to fight for justice for his partner, Frankie, and unborn daughter, Neeve, who were killed by a dangerous driver, and for all the other families that are being let down daily by a broken justice system.
By Calvin Buckley
I didn’t find out many details of the crash until a few days after. I was told that Franki had pulled over on the hard shoulder and a car had collided with her. The police said witnesses had seen the driver driving recklessly and dangerously at excessive speeds. He was arrested at the scene and later released on bail, much to my shock and dismay. A week later, the police found evidence on his phone of him filming himself driving just before the collision. He was then held on remand until sentencing.
I will never forget the emotions and feeling of dread I had waiting for sentencing. I was devastated when I found out that this was all caused by one person’s total disregard for the safety of others and because of an attitude where he thinks he is above the law. I was outraged and saddened.
My life, and so many others, turned upside down because somebody wanted to show off, brag, boast and feed their own ego. This made the tragedy more devastating.
The way he drove that day was described as “an accident waiting to happen.” It was no accident, it was crime. A crime that could have been prevented and that needs a strong deterrent, so that it doesn’t happen again. Or at the very least, to make people think twice before they use our roads as racetracks, endangering children and families’ lives for their own amusement.
The law around sentencing for death by dangerous driving has changed recently. The courts have been given the powers to handout life sentences for death caused by dangerous driving. This made me optimistic that this crime wouldn’t go unpunished and that there could be some form of justice for Franki and Neeve.
It wasn’t about punishing the perpetrator. It was a chance to send out a strong message that life is precious and that death by dangerous driving is taken seriously, that grieving families will get justice. The message should be loud and clear: If you choose to put other lives at risk and ultimately take somebody’s life it’s because of driving dangerously. There shouldn’t be any grey areas, it should be black and white, so that the perpetrators know they will be getting a life sentence for the crime.
Broken Justice System
Sadly, this didn’t happen. The driver got 12 years in prison (later increased to 15 years on appeal) and a driving ban of 13 years. He was only charged for one account of death by dangerous driving, not two. Neeve was not recognised as baby until she was over 24-weeks-old. My child did not exist in the eyes of the law. And the effect of me losing the opportunity to be a father was not acknowledged how it should be.
How can that be enough for taking two lives? Leaving two sons without a mother. Destroying a family. Leaving two young boys with life-changing injuries, destroying hopes and dreams. Taking away my chance to be a father, and a husband. The loss is unbearable. The devastation is too much to even digest. Layers and layers of trauma. We have been given a life sentence, that only few people will have experienced. What will it take for somebody to be given a life sentence for causing death by dangerous driving?
Fight for Justice
I am determined to fight for justice for my partner and daughter and for all the other families that are being let down daily by a broken justice system. The sentence was appealed on the grounds that it was unduly lenient. The impact and devastation caused is overwhelming. Caused by the selfish actions of somebody who has no regard for the law or the safety of others. Why wasn’t he banned from driving for life? Driving should be seen as a privilege, not a right. The way he put so many lives at risk and the devastation caused surely is enough to say you have lost the right/privilege of driving.
Franki’s killer was filming himself driving at excessively high speeds. He was also filming himself at one point driving at 129mph whilst holding his phone in one hand and the steering wheel in the other. Dashcam footage showed that he had been putting other drivers’ lives at risk, leading up to the fatal collision, for at least 10 minutes before the incident. Footage showed him tailgating, driving aggressively, undertaking, weaving in and out of traffic and was described by 1 witness “an accident waiting to happen.”
The mitigating factors that his defence used, in no way do they justify or lessen the impact of his reckless actions. According to his defence, he has shown remorse. Remorse? I haven’t felt or seen any remorse from the driver. He could have reached out to the family and expressed his remorse. That would mean something to myself and Franki’s family. That is the actions of a decent person.
His age was also a factor. Twenty-two-years-old is old enough to know right from wrong. Would a murderer be shown the same leniency?
It was also mentioned that he had no previous criminal convictions. However, he was banned from driving for two years for driving without insurance. He also got stopped by the police a few months before the incident for speeding and racing against another motorist. However, he was not charged by the police for this and got away with it. In my eyes, there are no mitigating circumstances that warrant leniency in this case or cases like this.
The devastation and the impact of this incident outweighs any mitigating circumstances. The way he was driving shows what type of attitude he has toward the law and the safety of others. That selfish attitude is what caused him to drive the way he did and take the lives of two innocent people a mother, and her unborn child.
I was told that RoadPeace support families who have suffered death and serious injuries because of road traffic collisions and that they have supported families in appealing against sentences, campaigning for law changes and raising awareness of road crime. I have a strong desire to use my story and tragedy.
I was told that RoadPeace would be able to support me with my fight to get justice and raise awareness and campaign for change. I was introduced to Rebecca Morris, Head of Communications at RoadPeace. Her passion and desire to support families and to raise awareness about road crime and campaign for change was very evident. RoadPeace and my solicitor, Polly Herbert, at Hugh James, have helped me to share my story through the media.
Fix Our Broken Justice System
Since my involvement with RoadPeace, I realised that this is happening every day. Nobody should have to suffer like this. Driven by grief and a desire to prevent other families from experiencing the devastation and heartache that I have suffered, I have teamed up with RoadPeace who have launched the #FixOurBrokenJusticeSystem campaign.
I’m working alongside three other families who have lost family members and loved ones at the hands of killer drivers. We want to Fix Our Broken Justice System, starting with campaigning for longer sentences for death caused by dangerous driving.
Something needs to be done now. Too many lives are being lost. Roughly, five lives are lost in Britain a day on our roads. People are losing their lives at the hands of dangerous, reckless, and careless individuals. People are not respecting or adhering to the law and are getting away with murder.
How can it be so easily dismissed that people are being killed? What makes this tragedy worse is the lack of justice. The people who are causing this devastation are getting away with it. Why is road crime or killing somebody not taken as seriously as other crimes? How is it justifiable to give short prison sentences and driving bans?
Why aren’t the perpetrators of road crimes, such as speeding, drug and alcohol driving, reckless and dangerous driving, given longer sentences and longer driving bans? There is no deterrent for those who don’t have a sense of moral responsibility or care for others. If somebody chooses to endanger your life and as a direct result of their behaviours, they kill and ruin lives beyond repair. They should face the toughest sentences possible.
The devastation that Franki and Neeve’s story highlights, is that our justice system is broken and needs fixing. Most people you speak to today have experienced dangerous, and reckless drivers on British roads. They are an increasing threat to the safety of innocent people’s lives. We see it daily. There needs to be a strong deterrent and more work and needs to be done at a national and Government level, to change attitudes towards road crime.
I want to educate young people on road safety and Road Crime so that they understand and know the importance of being a safe driver and how to keep themselves and others safe. Improving young people’s attitudes towards their safety and others is vital. A focus needs to be placed on having respect for others and empathy so they can understand the impact and devastation.
Instilling good morals so that they adhere to the law and encouraging them be more responsible adults. I hope that I can shine some light on road crime and bring it to people’s attention. Death and life-changing injuries caused by dangerous driving is a growing issue.
We need to: Fix Our Broken Justice System.
We can: Make our roads safer.
We will: Write a new chapter for future generations.
This is Franki and Neeve’s story,
This is your story,
This is our story.
Read Calvin’s previous blogs here:
Updated on: 1 December 2023