The daughter of a couple who died in a collision with a lorry driven by a Wellingborough man has spoken of her family’s loss.
George and Vera Maskell, aged 81 and 80 respectively, were hit by partially-sighted lorry driver Darren Sanders in south-west London last July.
The justice system has let us down severely, but more importantly have let my Mum and Dad down.Alison Maskell
Sanders, 44, of Dalkeith Road, Wellingborough, was later found not guilty of causing death by dangerous driving, but admitted careless driving.
He was given a nine-month prison sentence, suspended for two years, and was banned from driving for 19 months.
Now the Maskells’ daughter, Alison, has spoken of her family’s grief and hit out at the sentence Sanders received.
She said: “My Dad lived in Northamptonshire, where a lot of my family still live, and where we wanted to move to, as living near to where the incident happened is very traumatic for us.
“This was thwarted though when during the court process in 2015 we found out that the man responsible for taking my parents from us lived in the vicinity.
“I am an only child and registered disabled, and my parents were my full-time carers; due to my bad health, they were also the guardians and first point of contact regarding my children.
“In fact, they were more like parents than grandparents to all of my children, and quite literally our best friends.
“We all used to love spending time together as a family.
“We are beyond devastated that they are no longer with us; we were all extremely close.
“We have been left distraught, and their loss has created a total abyss in our lives.
“We were not only very emotionally close as a family but also lived next door and saw each other every day.
“We have been severely affected by the huge void that has been left with their absence from our lives.
“The incident that could and should have been avoided and the loss of my parents is not only affecting us emotionally, but has also affected us in a huge way medically, both physically and psychologically.
“We are all suffering with life-changing consequences and know that this will always be this case.
“Both of my parents only retired a few years before the incident and were reluctant in doing so as they had been exceptionally hard working all their lives and were still extremely active.
“The community has also been badly affected as they were both very well known, well liked and respected, and their ‘goodbye service’ was packed full with people that it became standing room only, and others having to stand outside. “Many friends and wider family have been very badly distressed and have had to seek medical attention.
“One of their long-known friends passed away through the shock of what happened to my parents.
“There have also been neighbours who have told me that they can no longer walk past their house as they are still so distressed.
“So many people have been traumatized by their passing and the way they were taken from us.
“From what I witnessed as their daughter, they had the perfect marriage; they were two people who never fell out of love.
“They enjoyed life and everything about it and loved being together.
“Sanders was found not guilty of two counts of death by dangerous driving, and because he admitted careless driving he got a ‘reward’ in sentencing for admitting guilt.
“We were utterly shocked and very disappointed with the verdict.
“We are equally disappointed with the sentencing and feel that the sentence was wholly inadequate and extremely lenient to say the least, and disproportionate to the actual acts that were committed.
“The judge, although his hands were tied due to the jury’s decision, could and should have given him a sentence that fitted the crime; we feel it isn’t even a ‘slap on the wrist’.
“The driver got a nine-month prison sentence, suspended for two years, and was banned from driving for 19 months, having to take a re-test when the ban has ceased.
“To me this is not a sentence, but an insult to the only victims in this, my parents.
“We are completely disillusioned with the whole justice system now; we feel there was no punishment, and definitely no justice, and therefore, no deterrent to others.
“The justice system has let us down severely, but more importantly have let my Mum and Dad down.
“It seems that victims and families of road traffic incidents never get justice, or even near to.
“For lives taken and so much trauma, it is an insult to victims and their families.
“His driving has taken two wonderful loved ones from us, and totally traumatised us, leaving us distraught with emotional scars that will remain with us forever.
“Mum and Dad were the only victims of this avoidable fatal crash, but my family and I are also victims of this crime.
“We have been handed a life sentence and will forever suffer until we take our last breaths.
“We will be forever grateful to the many complete strangers who selflessly rushed to my parents’ aid that morning to try to save their lives and to comfort them, and to all of the emergency services who attended.
“My parents have had their lives stolen from them, and they have been stolen from us.
“As the victim’s family we have been handed a life sentence with emotional lifetime scars, and have suffered mentally, physically and emotionally which will always be the case.
“We feel that the justice system has totally let us down and feel like nothing we have gone through and still going through in our suffering has even been taken into consideration.”